ALL IN THIS TEA
ALL IN THIS TEA (USA, 2007, 70 min.)
Washington, D.C. Premiere World-renowned tea expert David Lee Hoffman travels to remote regions of China in search of the finest handmade teas in the world. In the process he discovers that even in China 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 the best tea and that their craft should be honored and preserved. He drags the reluctant tea factory managers up a lush, terraced mountainside in their blue suits to bring them face to face with those “dirty” farmers. In an ironic twist, Hoffman reintroduces them to one of their own country’s oldest traditions and takes his support for the ancient tradition of tea making a step further, advocating “fair trade” and organics. The first film shot digitally by director Les Blank, All In This Tea provides an unpolished intimacy with the farmers’ faces and their tea-stained hands. They stand streetside in the shadow of China’s increasing number of high-rises, selling a week’s harvest for three dollars, illustrating the paradox that stepping into the modern world imposes. Moving from a modern, urban setting to a pastoral China rarely seen by westerners, scenes shot in cinema verité are interwoven with more formal presentations about the fundamentals of tea. A brief history lesson helps make clear what is at stake and lends significance to Hoffman’s endeavor. Directed and produced by Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht, Flower Films.
Introduced by Annie Kaempfer, Executive Director, Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. Discussion with filmmaker Les Blank.
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