Idiosyncratic doco maker Les Blank journeys to China with a devoted tea drinker and trader for an inside look at tea and the culture that spawned it.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
“The usual delight in unfamiliar tastes, traditions and personalities that has always marked Les Blank’s documentaries [Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers, The Maestro] is undimmed in his first digitally shot feature. Co-directed with editor Gina Leibrecht and shot over nearly a decade, All in This Tea offers a genial portrait of US tea importer David Lee Hoffman as he scours rural China for the finest non-factory-processed leaves… Hoffman became a tea aficionado during a youthful decade spent backpacking mostly in Asia, where tea isn’t just sustenance but a key element in various social, ceremonial and religious practices. Hoffman has difficulty not only finding the few farmers who still make hand-crafted teas the old way, sans pesticides, but also convincing the bureaucrats to let him buy directly from the source, rather than going through factories… Several Stateside entrepreneurs and experts comment on the booming market for boutique teas and coffees, analyzing the brew’s more rarefied varieties with the same rhapsodic seriousness many bring to wine appreciation.” — Dennis Harvey, Variety