A big tea story held in a small cup. Hello, I’m Christy Hui, director & producer & writer of tea film 9 DRAGONS TEA. People often ask me, “Why do I make this tea film?” In this article, I’d like to share my tea story with you and why I spent the last two and a half years making this little tea documentary film. So come along, and let’s go on a short tea-ride.
There’s Something About Tea
Tea is a simple beverage with an extraordinary story. The ancient roots of Camellia sinensis reach far and deep, crossing oceans, connecting people, changing history.
Tea knows no borders, no language gaps, no cultural divides. This tea film answers one big question:
Why is tea a cup of humanity?
Did you know that all the tea thrown into the Boston Harbor on Dec. 16, 1773, was from China? Over two-thirds, 234 chests were Black tea; all came from Wuyishan, Fujian province of China.
A Background Steeped In Tea
Growing up in China, I watched my father drink Gong Fu Tea as a kid. So I love tea. In my adult years, tea became an obsession. I devoured countless books and literature on tea and attended tea-tasting classes every Sunday for three years.
What’s my favorite tea? Oolong. I discovered this wonderful golden elixir on a business trip to Taiwan. Dong Ding Oolong was my go-to tea every afternoon, not only for its fragrance and taste but also for Oolong helps remove oil and grease after a heavy meal. It was my secret recipe to rein in a growing waistline after splurging on sumptuous meals in Asia. A tea enthusiast, I knew tea—or so I thought.
Tea Enthusiast. Shocked.
A few years ago, a friend asked if I knew what the world’s most expensive tea was. “A well-aged Pu erh,” I replied, sure of myself.
My friend shook his head, continued: “The most expensive tea is an Oolong tea. DA HONG PAO, in fact. It was sold at a Hong Kong auction for a little over $1,000 per gram. Only 20 grams were available. This Oolong tea is legendary in China.”
I was shocked. And hooked!
Secrets Buried In the Mountains
Months later, I found myself on a flight bound for Shanghai, then on a bullet train, which delivered me to the serene arms of the Wuyi Mountains—the heart of tea! Emerald tea fields filled my vision.
By the end of my seven-day trip, I learned that my favorite Dong Ding Oolong from Taiwan actually originated in Wuyishan. This discovery was indeed a big surprise because I’ve been drinking Dong Ding Oolong for nearly 20 years. Yet, I never knew of its origin. For the first time, I realize the tea realm is indeed filled with mysteries and untold stories.
It turns out Wuyishan is also the birthplace of the world’s Black teas, Li Shan Xiao Zhong, or Lapsang Souchong Black tea, aka Bohea.
Keep My Teapot Filled For Research
Research proved to be more daunting than I ever anticipated. After eight months of research, I found myself spinning down the rabbit hole into the vortex of tea. Like unraveling an onion, all of my previous tea knowledge barely prepared me for the endless layers that I would find hidden inside the ancient karsts of Wuyishan.
There were many ups and downs as I tried to piece together the ancient puzzle of tea. There were layers of mysteries, crisscrossing thousands of years of Chinese tea history, three centuries of tea trade with Europe, culminating in the greatest tea raid by the British East India Company how the infamous plant-hunter Robert Fortune slipped through the tightly guarded city ports to smuggle tea plants, tea seeds, and tea-masters into India. This tea hunting story made a fantastic final chapter in the film. The research paid off!
So two and a half years later, my learning boils down to this:
The tea realm is a vast, deep subject.
And this is why I love tea. To wrap up, here are my top reasons for making 9 Dragons Tea.
Five Reasons Why I Made This Film
- I want this film to illuminate tea’s long evolving culture in the motherland of China.
- This tea film documents the true story of tea’s epic journey from China to the West and how tea spread worldwide.
- Although tea is the most popular drink after water globally, tea’s history and origins are often misunderstood or muddy. Even in some prestigious museums dedicated to tea history, I find the facts and material obscured. I hope that the film inspires the museums to fill out a complete, true picture of tea’s history.
- Through this film, I’d like the tea community to discuss the importance of conducting scientific tea research, especially how the manufacturing process can impact tea’s health benefits.
- As a tea lover, I’d like to raise awareness on preserving the environment and improving best practices to ensure future generations can enjoy quality tea.
I can’t wait for you to watch the film! And I hope this work of art inspires an appreciation and love for tea because tea is extraordinary! To your health. Cheers! ~ Christy Hui
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Watch a short clip as Christy takes you behind the scenes of 9 DRAGONS TEA.
In pursuit of simplicity, knowledge, and a cup of good tea.