Our Tea Explorer at Hawaii’s International Film Festival

Tea-Fuelled fun on the tea stained carpets

And so our Tea Explorer documentary of mountains, memories and leaves opened at the Hawaiian International Film Festival. With salty air and warm sun above, a sold out audience joined us on a journey through the beloved Himalayas. Hawaii with its Asian links tea-love seems a perfect place to screen, lying as it does smack in the middle of so many cultures that relate not only to tea, but to the earth, the stories and the plant world. Here too the tradition of oral narratives is strong and not at all something foreign. Elders are as esteemed as they are in the world of the Tea Horse Road, and stories abound during meals, drinks and walks.

My badge and I prepare

Some tea is served before the screening with friends, and off we go…

Serving is part of the fun. I met Scott years ago in Shangri-la, my old home, and years later my fellow Canadian and I share the leaf.

During a question and answer period after the film screening, there was much discussion about the concept of “time and tea” and how very vital rituals were to simply slow it all down and recalibrate. The Tea Explorer doc at its heart explores not only a trade route that pre-dates the Silk Road, it explores the origins of tea and the relationships that it fostered (and maintained) over its 1300 years of buzzing tea-fuelled history.

Audience members wait in line. That little gent with his back to the camera in yellow was full of questions and curiosity during Q&A. He intuitively ‘got’ why stories – and their telling – are important

One question dealt with the importance of listening (an often-understated skill). Tea time is about that concept of taking time to take time. The leaves need time to be made and served. Nothing is hurried and this in turn tones down time and its fleeting moments.

Post-film, Pre-Tea…and Pre-Sake!

Some closing thoughts and thanks. The film will show on Hawai’i’s Big Island on the evening of November 18th.

About JeffFuchs

Bio Having lived for most of the past decade in Asia, Fuchs’ work has centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories with an obsessive interest in tea. His photos and stories have appeared on three continents in award-winning publications Kyoto Journal, TRVL, and Outpost Magazine, as well as The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, Silkroad Foundation, The China Post Newspaper, The Toronto Star, The South China Morning Post and Traveler amongst others. Various pieces of his work are part of private collections in Europe, North America and Asia and he serves as the Asian Editor at Large for Canada’s award-winning Outpost magazine. Fuchs is the Wild China Explorer of the Year for 2011 for sustainable exploration of the Himalayan Trade Routes. He recently completed a month long expedition a previously undocumented ancient nomadic salt route at 4,000 metres becoming the first westerner to travel the Tsa’lam ‘salt road’ through Qinghai. Fuchs has written on indigenous perspectives for UNESCO, and has having consulted for National Geographic. Fuchs is a member of the fabled Explorers Club, which supports sustainable exploration and research. Jeff has worked with schools and universities, giving talks on both the importance of oral traditions, tea and mountain cultures. He has spoken to the prestigious Spanish Geographic Society in Madrid on culture and trade through the Himalayas and his sold out talk at the Museum of Nature in Canada focused on the enduring importance of oral narratives and the Himalayan trade routes. His recently released book ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ (Penguin-Viking Publishers) details his 8-month groundbreaking journey traveling and chronicling one of the world’s great trade routes, The Tea Horse Road. Fuchs is the first westerner to have completed the entire route stretching almost six thousand kilometers through the Himalayas a dozen cultures. He makes his home in ‘Shangrila’, northwestern Yunnan upon the eastern extension of the Himalayan range where tea and mountains abound; and where he leads expeditions the award winning ‘Tea Horse Road Journey’ with Wild China along portions of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. To keep fueled up for life Fuchs co-founded JalamTeas which keeps him deep in the green while high in the hills.
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