Award-Winning Himalayan Exploration and Tea Fuelled Mayhem with Jeff Fuchs

There are few places on the planet that offer up the kind of clarity, pace, and stunning insight that the tea-stained lands or mountain-rich geographies do. The sacred green and stunning ominous heights are sacrosanct by virtue that they offer up nature-born stimulation and encourage awe all at once. 

Here is a space that exists entirely for the ‘green’ and the ‘heights’ and their influences and abilities to soothe and cleanse. Crucially too, this is a space for the precious people of the land who live within or around these two gifts of the heavens – for it is the people and their tales, their calluses and anecdotes that give lifeblood to all.

Jeff Fuchs and indomitable horseman Tenzin near Kawa Karpo in Yunnan

Sitting with the indomitable horseman Tenzin near Kawa Karpo in Yunnan

Here, a selection of images, interviews, insights and thoughts that deal with tea and mountains – in my mind at least, a sacred life-giving duo.

Why Tea

Tea – A seven-hour all night  tea session (and the ensuing rapture) in a Taiwanese teahouse, my own ‘tea fix’ was fixed. Asia’s great green commodity has (like few other luxuries) soothed, fed and stimulated. Tea holds a vital role as one of the few constants in my life – a constant that has only become more satisfying with time.

Explaining tea's journey to students of Singapore American School

Explaining tea’s journey to students of Singapore American School

Why Mountains

Mountains – Their serene and brutal abilities had been honed into me from years of climbing and wild escapades that began in Switzerland as a child. In the immaculate words of an ancient Himalayan muleteer, “the mountain’s laws are unambiguous, honest and eternal; you either survive it’s challenges with wisdom and strength or you simply perish in its elements”.


 Explorer of the Year

North Face – Ambassador

Kora – Ambassador

Having lived for most of the past decade in Asia, my work has contentedly centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories, an an obsessive interest in tea. Photos and stories have appeared on three continents in such award-winning publications as UNESCO, Kyoto Journal, Condè Nast Traveller, Financial Times, Outpost Magazine, TRVL, and the South China Morning Post, as well as The Toronto Star, World Geographic, The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, Silkroad Foundation, South China Post Newspaper, Outdoor Exploration, and Traveler amongst others. Various pieces of photographic work rest in private collections in Europe, North America and Asia.

Happily, I serve as Asian-editor-at-large for Canada’s multi-award-winning, ‘Canadian Magazine of the Year’, Outpost Magazine.

Standing on the north face of Kawa Karpo near Shola Pass

Standing on the north face of Kawa Karpo near Shola Pass

As of December, 2012, I’m serving as an ambassador for The North Face and write adventure blogs for them at http://www.quyeba.com/. Everything from tea journeys into the jungles to my mountain wanderings will be covered. I’m also proud to be serving as Explorer in Residence for Kora which is creating some of the warmest base-layers on the planet from yak wool sourced from the Himalayas. 

As well as having consulted for National Geographic, my recent ‘green union’ with Templar Foods acting as a global Tea Ambassador allows me much selfish time within the tea realms of Asia not simply to slurp but to source. Having led expeditions into the Himalayas it gives me great pleasure to be uniting with Wild China to lead exclusive expeditions along portions of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. Recently National Geographic Traveler named the Tea Horse Road tour I lead with Wild China as one of their “50 Trips of a Lifetime“.

Having spoken to students, universities and organizations in Asia, Europe and North America on tea culture and oral Himalayan narratives I am convinced of both the importance of Asia’s eternal green leaf, tea, and the mighty (and not so mighty mountains) that rise above so much. This blog gives me a forum to vent about both.

Recently, along with Aurelien and Allen Leftick, I set up Jalamteas which features limited editions of hand sourced teas from Yunnan province. It is the realization of a slightly obsessive dream to get authentic teas to drinkers who care about genuine Puerhs, with a story of the people and places behind them.

Tea and people inextricably bound

Tea and people inextricably bound

My book ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ – (Viking-Penguin Publishers) – ebook version here – detailing my 7.5 month groundbreaking journey traveling and chronicling one of the world’s great (and largely forgotten) trade routes, The Tea Horse Road. Like many obsessions, this journey to uncover more of its physical and cultural history will never really end.

Home for me in northwestern Yunnan – close to my two ‘needs’, mountains and tea – allows me unbridled access to both.

In May of 2011 myself and Michael Kleinwort undertook a month long exploration by foot  along a previously undocumented nomadic salt route through Qinghai province which not only took the month of May but also got us awarded as the joint ‘Wild China Explorer of the Year’ award for 2011.

In February (2012), Outpost Magazine, Revo Sunglasses, Mountain Hardwear, GV Snowshoes, and Wild China sponsored myself, Bill Roberts and Roberto Gibbons Gomez on a revisiting expedition (becoming the first documented westerners to do so) along an ancient pilgrimage/trade route. As always the intention was to bring these crucial routes to light and give them and the cultures around them some sort of greater perspective. So much of the cold weave of Himalayan history is through that vital facet: the oral narrative.

Yangpi, myself, and Tenzin during our journey along a portion of the Tea Horse Road

Yangpi, myself, and Tenzin during our journey along a portion of the Tea Horse Road

Onwards then…

Link to:

Jeff Fuchs homepage

Jeff Fuchs@Wikipedia

23 Responses to About

  1. Hey there, please tell us when we will see a follow up!


    I came to know about nomadic salt route today–very amazing–Dear Jeff Fuch,your book is going out of print–and there is only few copies in AMAZON–but at very unaffordable price abouve 200us dollar!Pl do somthing–I would like to request you to do something in this regard–other wise you can combine the both nomadic salt route+ this ancient tea horse route in one book–///I hope you one day come to ASSAM, NORTH EASTERN STATE, INDIA to do a research how tea entered ASSAM from china!hope I will get a reply from you.

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Greetings and thanks for the note. I’m currently at work on creating an image-heavy ebook – one that will be reasonably priced. With with some planning and good fortune, I hope to be in northeastern India. That area, its history and long lost tea routes are of huge interest to me.
      Be well Mayur,


    Thanks, Jeff–hope your feet will enlighten this area Assam very soon–and I express gratitude to you and many many thanks since you replied my words–pl feel free to write me.

    • JeffFuchs says:

      My feet and I hope to be upon your lands in Assam as well as it represents another edge of the great routes. Thanks for your words Mayur.


    • JeffFuchs says:

      I hope too, to have my feet over to Assam and its own histories soon.
      Thanks for the note Mayur.


      • Mayur Kumar Gogoi says:

        Sir–I am still waiting for your Journey To Assam–When will you come-pl intimate again–About Sukapha’s Route–we can disscuss–Hear you soon–September 2014?

        • JeffFuchs says:

          Greetings from Europe Mayur. I’m still waiting for confirmation about my Assam dates. There is a chance that it will not happen. I shall write you as soon as I hear more.

  4. Therry says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I saw you do a tasting at the Tea Emporium in Toronto, I asked you about how to store tea and I told you about my tea shelf.

    Anyways, I would like to know, on average, how much tea do you drink in a single day?


    • JeffFuchs says:

      Hi Therry,
      Long time since the Tea Emporium and I do remember the “tea shelf” discussion.

      Most days – and I’ve only recently been actually observing how much I consume – I take in just under a litre of tea. This is spread out throughout the day, usually consisting of one or sometimes two teas. I don’t follow the informal rule of not drinking tea after 4 pm…I’m slurping away whenever the mood strikes but I alter the times and amounts of leaves. Something a friend in Yunnan explained is that the longer the first rinse time is the more of the stimulant compounds are removed so when I want to go easy, I let the tea leaves rest in a long first rinse.

      thanks for writing in and hope all is well,

  5. patricia cook says:

    have you ever thought of delving into the history and culture of the mate and tea plantations in the Guarani “Indian” area, site of the fascinating Jesuit Missions in area of Iguazzu Falls sub-tropical rain forests and corner of present day Argentina/Paraguay/Brazil? –

  6. MaryAnne says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I wasn’t sure how else to contact you but I was given your name whilst researching an article I’m writing for a magazine in Shanghai. I’m looking for people/organizations who are leading tours or activities in the less touristed parts of china that are leaning heavily toward the educational and which are family friendly. Are you still leading tours and can families with kids join them? What educational themes do they focus on? Any information would be grand, if you have the time.

    Kind regards.

  7. Bret Newman says:

    Hey Jeff –

    I have been an avid follower of your adventures and writings since discovering your work a few months ago. I came upon your blog while researching information on doing a kora around the mighty Amnye Machen. I completed a half kora, thanks in part to your great post on it! I just returned from six months of adventuring around China and the first thing I did was read your book, and I am greatly inspired by it. I wish I had known about you while I was living in Kunming a few years back – I had the chance to spend a Spring Festival with a friend in the village of Pu’er and would have enjoyed sharing my experience with you.

    If possible, I would love to get in contact with you to hear more personally about your adventures and what you have planned for the upcoming year. Maybe I could even tag on to an adventure with you – that would be life changing!

    Also, please feel free to browse my blog Musical Plates. I adventured to a bunch of great Tibetan areas that I am sure you are very familiar with.

    Best wishes,
    Bret Newman

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Greets Bret and hoping that this might reach you. Sent on an earlier email that I suspect got stuck in the middle-lands.
      Thanks for the note and just the mention of the Amnye kora sets off the blood on a nice trip.

      Do let me know if you get this note Bret…and we can continue by email.


      • Bret Newman says:

        Hey Jeff,

        It was really awesome meeting and chatting with you at Tea Drunk in Manhattan over the weekend. I am hoping we can continue to stay in touch through e-mail (newman.bret@gmail.com) and would love to talk more about opportunities with Wild China.

        Wishing you the best of luck on your journey to Assam – I can’t wait to read about it!

        Take it easy,

  8. lingholic says:

    Absolutely fascinating blog and life, Jeff. I’ll definitely be returning here often. Your pictures are breathtaking, your words are inspiring, and your lifestyle is thrilling. Looking forward to meet and talk to you in the near future. I will be sharing your blog to my readers!


  9. Suzette says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I saw your website and wanted to contact you. I study the traditional textiles of the Western Himalaya, as well as the mummies of Western China. I have long wanted to travel the ancient trade routes that connect the Kullu valley to China and Tibet and perhaps make a documentary about them. Imagine my surprise and delight to find your web page. I would love to be in contact and learn about your specific route.

  10. Stephan says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Was your book about Tea Horse Road translated in French ?



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