If you’ve crossed the line from casual tea drinker to connoisseur then you’ll understand that there’s something about a truly great tea that can inspire equally great passions. At times, these passions may become so consuming that they seem to border on obsession. If you’re looking for proof of this idea look no further than David Lee Hoffman, the subject of an entertaining and informative documentary film called All In This Tea.
Early in his life Hoffman was a vagabond who spent much of his time roaming through Asia, where he developed his passion for tea. This passion grew into the business we glimpse as All In This Tea’s cameras follow him through China on an endless quest for the finest handmade teas.
The documentary project got underway in 1997 and All In This Tea finally premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2007. The film was co-directed by Les Blank, whose many other documentary films include Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers, an in-depth look at garlic production in northern California.
Among the other tea notables who turn up in All In This Tea are James Norwood Pratt, who expounds as passionately or perhaps even more so than Hoffman on the many and diverse joys of tea. Also on hand, Winnie W. Yu, owner of the Berkeley-based tea shop Teance and Gaetano Kazuo Maida, executive director of the Tea Arts Institute.
But it’s the irrepressible Hoffman – who has gone so far as to build a cave to house his collection of puerh tea – who takes center stage, making his way through far flung tea-growing regions throughout China, repeatedly plunging his face into large bags of tea, haggling and joking with local farmers and cajoling anyone who will listen about the importance of fair trade policies and organic agriculture. Other highlights include brief glimpses of an oolong tea stem cleaning factory and an oolong tea competition.
Learn more about this tea doccumentarty here!