Jeff Fuchs loves tea. As in he cannot function without it. And he’s not talking about your Lipton black tea either. Oh no. You won’t catch him tangoing with coffee either; he’ll admit that it provides income for those who cannot grow tea but he still frowns upon it. Jeff is a tea connoisseur; he’s always looking for that perfect cut brewed just right. He’s traveled all over just to find it but he’s favorite spot is in an area that makes up southern China, Nepal and Tibet.
This documentary does an excellent job of showing the almost ritualistic process of taking the tea leaves from the trees themselves, to removing the moisture, to packaging them, to even serving the tea itself. And it’s not a simple procedure of boiling water and soaking the leaves. It can take several infusions to get the right brew. Jeff’s a person who likes sitting down and talking to people, even if it’s for several days. It’s his love of tea that helps him connect and this doc is at its best when it does just that.
On the other hand, I’m not quite sure what the true topic of this documentary was. Yes, Jeff loves his tea, that is stated, but it jumps from the old traders of the Tea Horse road and preserving their stories, to following the trail, to the tea making, back to the trail, back to the old traders, back to the trail again, Jeff complaining about coffee, back to the old traders and so on and so forth. I feel like this could’ve been broken up into three separate documentaries. The cinematography is great for the most part (there are some unfocused shots here and there) and the music is pleasant but some of the editing could’ve been better and the audio touched up in some parts. And there’s Jeff himself whom I’m not sure if I want to love him or dislike him because he’s so passionate.
The Tea Explorer is worth looking at, maybe for a Netflix night, mostly because I was just waiting for it to end after an hour into it. Three out of five.