All in This Tea – DVD Documentary

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allinthistea.jpgIf you love tea, this is simply a must-watch documentary. All in This Tea follows American tea importer David Lee Hoffman as he travels across China to purchase top-grade, organic tea directly from the farmers who grow it. Along the way we learn about the history of the tea trade, the different types of tea, production methods, organic farming, chemical and pesticide issues, and the social and economic sides of tea consumption and industry. Hoffman's quest is to bring back only the best chemical- and pesticide-free tea. This may sound simple, but the burgeoning Chinese economy has made it increasingly difficult as tea merchants have pushed farmers to grow for quantity, not quality.

Personally, I learned a great deal from this DVD, particularly about the history of Chinese and Indian teas. The only naturally-growing tea plants outside of China, for example, were those in the Assam region of India - and these were only discovered by Scotsmen in the 19th century. For five thousand years tea was essentially unknown to the outside world. I was also surprised to learn that Darjeeling tea is actually all descended from a single line of Chinese tea plants that were basically stolen out of China by a British expedition in the 1840s. The high regions in Darjeeling, then under British control, were the only place in the world that the Chinese tea plants could grow and thrive.

Of course I was also tickled to see one of my all-time favorite directors, Werner Herzog, in a quick scene near the beginning of the movie. Its never actually explained what he's doing there - I can only assume he's friends either with Les Blank or David Lee Hoffman - but he lays out one of the most poetic sequences of the film with his description of a Chinese tea he'd just sampled:

"I imagine things like walking through a forest. There are leaves on the ground. It just has rained. The rain has stopped. It's damp, and you walk... and somehow, that's all in this tea."

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One Response to “All in This Tea – DVD Documentary”

  1. Organic Growing Says:

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