I just finished watching the documentary All in This Tea. I was sorry to miss it when it played the SFIFF a few years back. The film is about Bay Area-based tea importer David Hoffman, his travels through China in pursuit of the finest teas, and the difficulties he faced getting those teas to America. The film focuses a great deal on the struggle to overcome a factory-driven, pesticide-laden tea market and his determination to connect the consumer with the small tea farmers and their organic crops. Let’s just say things turn out well, and his efforts have greatly and positively affected the tea market in the U.S. I didn’t realize until I saw the film that Mr. Hoffman was the founder of Silk Road Teas in San Rafael–a company whose teas I have been buying and loving for the past few years. He no longer owns the company, but the people who have replaced him are carrying on in the same vein.
What I liked best about the film was how gentle it was on the eyes and ears–so different from pretty much everything else we watch. It’s amazing what you’re able to see and hear when you’re not being directed by overwrought music and editing. All in This Tea lets the story unfold quietly and simply with nothing extraneous to distract from the fascinating tale being told.
When it comes to tea I’ve found the more I learn the less I know. I didn’t start this site because I’m an expert on tea. Quite the opposite. It was an opportunity to really delve into something I love, and it’s through a film like this I’m reminded of just how long and marvelous a journey it will be.
I was lucky enough to spot the DVD on the library shelf. It’s not a film I think someone should rush out and buy, but if you’re lucky enough to spy it on your library shelf or if it makes the rounds of the second run movie house in your neck of the woods, it’s an uplifting way to spend ninety minutes or so.