There’s green gold in them thar hills

China is tough market to do business when the road has not been paved. Politics, lack of connections, and entrenched ways of doing business hinder. Enter an undettered American tea importer, David Lee Hoffman, who thinks beyond ‘outside the box’. For Hoffman, there is no box.

The documentary film ‘All in This Tea’ follows Hoffman in his quest to directly seek premium organic teas grown in remote mountainous regions by highly skilled tea farmers. He refuses to tread the easy route and accept the Chinese factories’ chemically toxic, commercially grown tea. Hoffman can’t be fooled into buying non-organic tea. It only takes him one good sniff to smell chemicals in a tea bag.

This inferior quality, commercially grown tea is emblematic of the dumbing down of capitalism, whereby the only consideration is to maximize short-term profits and to achieve this end the “expense” of skilled workers is eliminated. This mentality is not endemic to just China. In America, retail is being staffed with more part-time, unskilled workers who are good at taking orders and smiling but little help with consulting customers to make sound purchasing decisions.

For Hoffman, the ancient Chinese craft of cultivating premium teas and the soil are sacred. Hoffman aimed to preserve both by building a largely untapped market in America and educating Chinese officials and factory executives about the virtues of organic farming. The film shows him explain to them in a dinner conversation the highly effective and environmentally friendly fertilizer of earthworm poop. “Now that’s some good shit!”

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