Friday, May 11, 2012

Rain, Rain, and more Rain… Oh and Some Tea Documentaries

Rain rain go away.  Well at least the plants in my garden have been very happy recently.  My very first strawberry decided to make an appearance this week and everything has been growing quite fast.  All this dreariness is making me just want to hide my head under the covers.  Today I decided to finally watch two tea documentaries,…All In This Tea and The Meaning Of Tea.  Both were quite different and enjoyable.  But before I could sit down and watch two films back to back I need make myself comfortable.  First and most importantly, I must choose the correct tea or teas.  I picked out a lovely ceremonial grade matcha and also our amazing Wild Purple Buds Puerh.   Next, I must find my favorite fuzzy blanket and make my way to my ugly reclining chair.  This is a chair so ugly that when my husband and I saw it in the showroom we mocked it from across the room.  As a joke we decided to sit in it but that is when we fell in love with what has to be the most comfortable chair in the world.  Now that I was ready it was time to watch the first documentary, The Meaning of Tea.

I have been looking forward to seeing this documentary for a while.  I just never got around to purchasing it.  There were so many beautiful and visually stunning images.  The intro alone had me in a relaxed state.  The Meaning of Tea presented a number of diverse cultures and I felt like I was transported to Morocco, India, Taiwan, France, China, and Japan.  There were also a variety of people interviewed, including:  tea tasters, estate managers, farm workers, processors, a tea master, a factory supervisor, shop owners, etc.  I would have liked to see a little more depth of certain interviews, particularly from some of the knowledgeable tea experts and I certainly could live without a few of the segments.  The South Dakota segment didn’t add anything new and the tea is sexy segment was just bad.  Even without those sections there were others that just weren’t necessary or were awkward.  Besides those complaints, I really enjoyed this documentary.  There was one quote from Fu-Chin Chang that stuck with me “once you’re surrounded by nature, you feel like you’ve been embraced.  There are lots of things that the city can’t provide.  It’s not something you can buy with money.  Many things in nature require time and observation for you to understand.”  That’s something that feel is very true.  Slowing down and enjoying nature is something that I have been more focused on in the last few years and it has certainly grounded me more.  This dvd comes with a lot of special features worth checking out.

After a short break, I was now ready for round 2.  I threw …All In This Tea in the dvd player and made my way back to my ugly chair and fuzzy blanket.  This documentary features David Lee Hoffman, an American tea importer, as he searches out for great tea in China.   This film was a bit dated but it reveals some of the politics behind the business of tea in China at the time.  We also get to take a look at tea being processed, farmers, and various business transactions all with some information on tea interspersed throughout.  Like The Meaning of Tea, there was a number of very visual moments in this dvd that really translated some of the tea culture to the viewer.  Some of the visuals were quite breathtaking.  I loved how James Norwood Pratt mentioned that tea was a living archeology.  That essentially we can be transported in time by drinking tea.  Some people throughout time could have drank a tea that was very similar to what we drink now.  I know that could be said about many things, but it’s just a very interesting thought.  In one clip David had mentioned that with puerh you either love it or you hate it.  I used to believe that as well, but the more people I talk to the more I feel that puerh is really something that you can learn to appreciate.  All it takes is the right puerh to intrigue someone to explore more puerhs.  

There was also an emphasis on promoting small farms, rewarding producers of high quality tea, and using organic and sustainable methods.  This documentary made me think about how sometimes as consumers, we just aren’t always responsible about what we choose to buy.  I don’t mean this just for tea but for everything.  Do we always take the time to make sure everything we buy won’t negatively impact our environment or that the workers are paid fairly or that we buy products from small businesses?  I really enjoyed this documentary and of the two this one was more informative but both have their merits.  There really wasn’t a lot of overlap between the two videos.  I’m glad I finally got to see both of those documentaries.  Anyone else see them?  


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