Do you ever wonder how, in the 1800s, they got the roses from China to England in sailing ships? The Plant Hunters and missionaries frequently bought them from Chinese nurseries (the first Tea rose came from the Fa Tee Nurseries near Canton in n1808) and shipped them to England via Calcutta. They would go planted in tubs, or with soil at the roots, sewn up in cloth or hessian or in special glass cases known as Wardian cases.
At Calcutta, the Botanic Gardens, under the care of Dr William Roxburgh from 1813, received them and cared for them until they were considered fit for onward transport. But this did cause some confusion. Since Calcutta was in Bengal, the English called the China roses Bengal Roses and the Tea roses were regarded as descendants of r. indica on the wrongful assumption that they originated in Calcutta, Bengal, India.
It would be interesting to know whether the Fa Tee Nurseries (and similar) labelled their plants in 1808, and if so, what they were called. We do know some of the Chinese names nowadays; r.odorata was known as Fun Jwan Lo; r. banksia was Mu Xiang Hua (Wood Perfume Flower); and, r. laevigata was known as Chin Ying Tzu.
Now, the question is, how the Tea roses got their name!!!
Was it because, as some claim, that the roses had a tea scent “like the smell of a newly opened tea chest?
Did they get their tea scent from being associated with the tea being shipped on the same Tea Clippers?
Was it because the roses were shipped in the fast Tea Clippers of the East India Company?
Or, was it because many of them came from the Fa Tee Nurseries?