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All In This Tea Logo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In All In This Tea (2007), Les Blank's handheld camera takes us into the hidden world of tea by following world-renowned tea expert David Lee Hoffman to some of the most remote regions of China in search of the best handmade teas in the world.
 
Hoffman is obsessed; during his youth, he spent four years with Tibetan monks in Nepal, which included a friendship with the Dalai Lama, and was introduced to some of the finest tea--that golden nectar with which we can taste the distant past.
 
Les Blank
Les Blank
Unable to find anything but insipid tea bags in the U.S., Hoffman began traveling to China to find tea for himself. In the process, he discovered the rarity of good, handmade tea, even in China, where the ancient craft of making tea has given way to mass production.
 
Hoffman struggles against language barriers and Byzantine business codes to convince the Chinese that the farmers make better tea and that their craft should be honored and preserved.
 
This craft cannot be learned from a book, but has been handed down through generations of tea makers for thousands of years.
 
He drags the reluctant tea factory aficionados up a lush, terraced mountainside in their blue suits and penny loafers to bring them face to face with those "dirty" farmers. In an ironic twist, Hoffman reintroduces them to their own country and one of its oldest traditions. It is as if he is saying, "Don't look too far forward before you take a look back and see what gems you already possess."
All In This Tea
 
All In This Tea
 
All In This Tea
Images of the farmers standing streetside, selling a week's harvest for three dollars, in the shadow of China's increasing number of high rises illustrate the paradox that stepping into the modern world imposes.
 
But, Hoffman is even a step ahead of his own country in that he is advocating Fair Trade and organics. Despite Hoffman's at times argumentative and condescending manner, we become increasingly empathetic to him; he is only one small voice against a vast and complex machine.
 
 
As his first film shot digitally, Les Blank was a one-man crew who blended in with the environment, taking his famous fly-on-the-wall approach even further.
 
Combined with scenes edited into a seamless flow of live events, this film pushes beyond the boundaries of Blank's earlier work. A handheld camera provides an unpolished intimacy with the farmers' faces and their tea-stained hands.
 
The film moves from a modern, urban setting to a pastoral China rarely glimpsed by westerners. Scenes shot in cinema verite are interwoven with more formal presentations about the fundamentals of tea with tea authorities James Norwood Pratt, Gaetano Kazuo Maida, and Winnie W. Yu.
 
All In This Tea
 
This helps make clear what is at stake, and thereby lends weight to Hoffman's endeavor. It is hoped that the viewer will feel as if they have been somewhere they've never been before, and ask themselves what is out there that is worth preserving.
 

 
See our Downloadable PDF Press Kit on the
Press Kit web page for more information.
 

DVD Available



 

All In This Tea, info  @  allinthistea.com
 
all video, images, photographs and text © 2007 by:
Flower Films, 10341 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530
11 January 2008

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