By Wu Hao
Canadian Jeff Fuchs is fond of mountains and tea, so much so that he may well be the first foreigner from a Western country to travel the 5,000-kilometer Tea Horse Road, a legendary trade route connecting the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, Tibet and parts of India and Bangladesh.
On March 1, Fuchs shared his experiences at a Capital M literary festival event.
Two necessities: mountains and tea
Fuchs has lived in Asia for the past decade and done work related to indigenous mountain culture, oral histories and tea.
Before coming to China, he spent a considerable time in Switzerland, where he developed his love for mountaineering. “Traveling in the mountains, every 5 minutes, you see something tremendous and you feel very small. You see how much space and how much silence [there is], and for me this is good,” he said. “I’m not a city person. City people are just rushing for no reason.”
Fuchs said he prefers tea to coffee because he didn’t come from a coffee-drinking family.
“My father had tea in the house from a very early age,” Fuchs said. “The culture of tea is special. I think for me it’s the earth’s one pure medicinal drink. There is so much culture attached to tea that you need time to learn about it.”
“I prefer Yunnan’s tea culture because it’s so simple, you don’t need a fancy teapot,” he said. “It is less words, less speaking, and more understanding of what makes this tea so good.”
In 2003, a friend from Taiwan told him that Yunnan was a very special, ethnically diverse place, and that – most importantly – it had mountains and tea. Fuchs came with that in mind.