Tea Horse Road

It seems fitting that a route that was imbued with both tea and mountains, The Ancient Tea Horse Road , would become a fixation in my life. In 2006/7 five Tibetans and myself would complete a 7.5 month 5,000 km length of the entire route – making it a first for any western explorer, or any known ‘outsider’. With bodies bowed, veins full of tea and heads loftily left in the magnificent heights, our perspective and scope of knowledge of both tea and the Himalayas had been irreversibly broadened. For the most remote, battle and nature hardened peoples there was no commodity equivalent to Jia, Cha, or simply Tea, no route more sacrosanct to so many isolated peoples than the grand mysterious band called Gyalam (Wide Road) to the Tibetans, Cha Ma Gu Dao (Ancient Tea Horse Road) to the Chinese and to others simply as ‘The Eternal Road’. For 13 uninterrupted centuries, laden caravans, migrants, villains and warriors alike treaded the great path through the mountains – a path that gave as well as took life.

In my ensuing book ‘Ancient Tea Horse Road-Travels with the last Himalayan Muleteers’ (Penguin Canada) the route, it’s understated crucial role in the Himalayan history, and the adventure that our expedition tea happily engaged in is documented.

This stunning and daunting route, so vital to so many of the remote Himalayan peoples, somehow remained a virtual mystery to the west for almost 13 centuries – it is now hopefully getting its due and some of the acclaim it deserves, as one of the globes’s most daunting and incredible journeys.
The ancient tea horse road Book
Buy “The ancient tea horse road” at Amazon

16 Responses to Tea Horse Road

  1. smusiaVasse says:

    Casting ethnic characters is a very hard thing to do, but it’s important. It’s also interesting.

  2. GAIGNEEFUEF says:

    I believe in communication; books communicate ideas and make bridges between people.

  3. Eric says:

    Tonight I was introduced to the Tea Horse Road through a radio interview you gave and I found the subject and your anecdotes and stories very engaging. Particularly the description of your friend’s 800 meter journey to the edge and of the elders telling you two days of your attention were required to properly understand the undertaking.

    After hearing you speak of these things there’s not a shadow of a doubt that your book will be a good read.

    Good luck with the art show!

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Hope the reading of the book provides a bit more flesh to the route and the very passionate characters on the journey.
      Thanks for the note….and that elder’s advice of “two days” to understand, stays with me still.


  4. Jean Lee says:

    Hi Jeff,
    It was wonderful to learn more about teas and to learn of this historic road at YCIS-Beijing today. I hope to have the chance to visit part of Tea Horse Road with my family in the near future. I finally remembered the name of the “tea pioneer” in the documentary I mentioned: David Lee Hoffman. Heard of him? I found your Jalam Teas link off this website. It is great to know that there is a reputable source where one can purchase pu’er in N. America! It was a pleasure to meet you and thank you for the terrific talk and for doing this work. I look forward to reading your book once it finally is available on Kindle!

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Thanks for showing up for the talk and better yet writing. Yes, have heard much of David Lee Hoffman…he is in his own right a pioneer of ‘real’ tea.
      Will be in touch regarding a book on Kindle.

      thanks again for writing Jean,

  5. Birte says:

    I was happy to discover your site and book. However, why is it so expensive? I will be doing a power point presentation in the learning society that I belong to. The title of the seminar is “The Silk Road” I choose to do my presentation on the “forgotten” Tea-Horse Road..I am having a great deal of trouble locating affordable books to read on the subject. They are either too expensive or on Kindle.
    Thanks anyway, for an informative introduction..
    Birte H.

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Good to hear from you Birte. Yes, costs seem to march up and up.
      The route is now finally enjoying its time in the sun as more recognize its role in the wider Himalayan weave of life.


  6. Orachat says:

    We were at your talk in Beijing for the international association at an embassy. We got your book and you signed it for us.
    I remembered at your talk, you showed some pictures of nomads you met on your trip, one is a girl – she looked at you from the higher angle. You said she’s about 2 meters high. I’m thrilled to hear that. It’s been in my mind since that I’ve been hoping that you might/would write a book about the experiences you had with nomads along the trips you had.
    We traveled to Zhongdian in 1994, and that’s one of the most incredible memory I had, to meet Tibetan.

    I love your book.


    • JeffFuchs says:

      Thanks for writing. I know well the photo you speak of as it is framed and up on a wall. You were in Zhongdian at a special time…much of it is gutted at the moment with the recent fire. Cherish those memories Orachat.

      Sending fresh air from Zhongdian,

  7. Tony Wilson says:

    I found this blog when I was researching into various tea types that I haven’t yet tried. I was looking at finding some info about mursalski chai which is a well known mountain tea from the Balkans.
    I’m a tea lover there’s no doubt about it and I love stories such as this one. All the best of luck.

  8. poppie gleeson says:

    Hi I’ve recently come up with the daunting idea of attempting this epic road on horse back. I’ve been inspired by the like of Tim cope who completed the his four year trek on the ghengis khan trail across mongolia to hungary. I was just wondering if you think the ancient tea horse road is possible to do on horse back and any information would be fab. Im a litle out of my depth but the calling for adventure is just to strong to ignore, and something about this road resonate with me so much.

    hope you recieve this and i look forward to hearing from you, thank you for your time.


    • JeffFuchs says:

      Hi Poppie….I’ve just found your note on my blog site. Apologies!
      Love the idea of the horseback upon the old road, though the permit visa issues in Tibet would be daunting.
      We just filmed a documentary along the road and it reminded me of the challenges of accessing portions of the route…now it is even more politically difficult due to border restrictions.

      Best of luck as the desire in me to retrace yet again is – and will always be – strong in me.


  9. JeffFuchs says:

    Apologies Laury for the tardy reply. Glad that some of the spirit of that wonderful part of the globe was imparted and that you ‘got’ it. A pleasure getting your note…and for making reference to that word ‘lados’ which is one of the fading parts of that tale.

    best from north of you in Canada,

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