Isabella and Phineas have many witty conversations throughout the beginning of the novel. I found myself greatly amused by them, for more often than not the nature of these conversations was sardonic.
Phineas Snowe seemed truly to be somewhat of a cad, though he said that he was a missionary. He was especially a cad where Isabella was concerned. He was also somewhat arrogant and given to lies. But he was a honorable man at heart.
Isabella was sweet and too much consumed with clothing--which she did chide herself on several times. She was determined to be a missionary, which did end her up in China in a rather interesting situation.
All the Tea in China did have its flaws. When Isabella ran away she was never homesick, which I found quite unrealistic. Also, there was never a clear presentation of the gospel, though Isabella did say many times that she wanted to preach the good news, whatever the good news was. Also, Jane Orcutt took a rather daring route in writing this book in first person. The problem with this is that the only person the reader can ever really know is the person speaking. I wanted to get to know Phineas better. He wasn't as deep a character he could have been, for this reason and also the reason that he never much spoke about his faith or relationship with God. However, I will say that I enjoyed being inside Isabella's head and hearing her thoughts. It kept the book interesting and exciting. It never seemed to drag.
Around the end of the book, Isabella lives with her mother-in-law for a while. The author could have done a better job with Isabella being more of a witness for Christ here, because I never really did see the mother-in-law change in any respect, though she did soften toward Isabella.
Other than these things, the book was witty and well-researched. I learned much about sword fighting, Chinese history and culture, as well as ships and sails. I give All the Tea in China a 3 out of 5 stars.