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

22 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. WP Walker says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story after watching the video on TV. Is there any possible way to get a copy of this Video or a DVD availible that I can share with friends.

    thank you,
    WP Walker

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Greetings to you and glad the show was enjoyed. A great team who wanted to keep something of the sanctity of the route and the vital people. So, as of now the film is being shown on CBC and AWE in the US, then it will hit film festivals. After than I’m told it will be available online and DVD. I’ll be updating here as I know more. best from Hong Kong

  10. Loved this book when i met you at Brome fair grounds..(fellow Hungarian) actually do not like tea! Yet this tea tasted good. Intense. Like you. The mountains. Hard smell yet very pleasant. Cannot find it elsewhere.

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Love your comments on the tea Catherine and of course the book. Remember Brome well from all those years ago. Hope you are well and that you like tea a little bit more now.

      thanks – Jeff

  11. Susan says:

    Dear Jeff,

    I’m an American woman who just learned about you, your travels, your book and your film “The Tea Explorer”. Am eager to view the film and check out your book. Do you have any more details about access to the film in the U.S.? Is it available online yet?

    Thanks for: your tea obsession and your adventurous nature.

    With kind regards and warm wishes for the holiday season,

    • JeffFuchs says:

      Thanks for the note and thoughts Susan. The film is at present showing on AWE network in the US apparently. Have gotten notes from viewers saying it had played a few times and assuming it is still the case. Not available online quite yet as the film rests in the hands of CBC in Canada but will update here as I know more.
      best to you and yours for the Season as well Susan,

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