Wednesday, April 14, 2010

All in this Tea - Documentary

All In This Tea (2007)

All In This Tea takes us into the world of tea by following world-renowned tea expert David Lee Hoffman to some of the most remote regions of China in search of the best handmade teas in the world.

Hoffman is obsessed; during his youth, he spent four years with Tibetan monks in Nepal, which included a friendship with the Dalai Lama, and was introduced to some of the finest tea—that golden nectar with which we can taste the distant past.

Unable to find anything but insipid tea bags in the U.S., Hoffman began traveling to China to find tea for himself. In the process, he discovered the rarity of good, handmade tea, even in China, where the ancient craft of making tea has given way to mass production. This craft cannot be learned from a book, but has been handed down through generations of tea makers for thousands of years.

Hoffman tries to convince the Chinese that the farmers make better tea and that their craft should be honored and preserved. He drags the reluctant tea factory aficionados up a lush, terraced mountainside in their blue suits and bring them face to face with those “dirty” farmers. In an ironic twist, Hoffman reintroduces them to their own country and one of its oldest traditions.

Images of the farmers standing streetside, selling a week’s harvest for three dollars, in the shadow of China’s increasing number of high rises illustrate the paradox that stepping into the modern world imposes. But, Hoffman is even a step ahead of his own country in that he is advocating “fair trade” and organics. Despite Hoffman’s at times argumentative and condescending manner, we become increasingly empathetic to him; he is only one small voice against a vast and complex machine.

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