Until pretty recently, Lipton's Orange Pekoe was the only variety of tea most Americans had ever tasted. Basic black may be considered appropriate for many occasions, but once your taste buds have been tickled by jasmine or Pu-erh or hibiscus, it's impossible to go back. In the seductive documentary All in This Tea, Bay Area importer David Lee Hoffman takes us on a one-of-a-kind tour of China in search of what's becoming a 21st-century holy grail: tea leaves that have been harvested and dried by hand, without the taint of factory production. Okay, China is a mammoth country, and handpicked tea is still plentiful. If, that is, you know what you're looking for and where to look. With Hoffman on the prowl and the self-effacing East Bay icon and filmmaker Les Blank (Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers) behind the camera, All in This Tea is not just a picturesque travelogue but an insightful look at a changing China. Globalization is on the move, but a taste of the good life can still be had. Get thee behind me, Lipton!
Mon., Dec. 17, 2007