Six thousand kilometers. An eight month groundbreaking expedition. Across the top of the world from tea’s ancient origins in Yunnan into the Himalayas and beyond, explorer Jeff Fuchs covered the once famous but now all-but-forgotten Tea Horse Road. This “route through the sky,” a pathway that ushered life, commodities, ideas, DNA, languages and culture along for 13 uninterrupted centuries, brought tea to Lhasa, the almost 12,000-foot-high capital of Tibet, and horses to China, crossing two dozen cultures along the way all brought together by virtue of a common desire to trade.
Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview I conducted with Jeff Fuchs, the award-winning explorer, author, photographer, tour guide, and tea ambassador who documented his journey traveling and chronicling one of the world’s great trade routes in his book “The Ancient Tea Horse Road.” In this fascinating interview dotted with captivating photos of the people he met along the way, Jeff takes us on a tour halfway around the world sharing two long held obsessions of his, tea and mountains. Of course, languages trail not too far behind, and we get to hear, tucked in between the itchy-feet-inducing adventure tales of the Himalayas, how and why Jeff ended up learning Mandarin Chinese, Tibetan, and Hani.
I hope you’ll enjoy this interview, and if you’d like to learn more about Jeff, have a peek at his wonderful blog, “Tea and Mountain Journals,” say hi on Facebook, or discover new teas and new tales every month with him over at Jalam Teas.
Questions I Asked Jeff Fuchs
- You’ve spent the past decade in Asia and you’ve been to places very few people have set foot in. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and what got you into all of those adventures in the first place? [1:47]
- You first started learning Mandarin in Taiwan, and this journey all began with your passion for tea. You also speak Tibetan and Hani, the latter being a language spoken by the Hani, or Ho, minority. What is your approach to language learning and how have your language skills opened doors for you, and how have they allowed you to travel to places and meet people you would have never met otherwise? [4:46]
- The Tea Horse Road is one of the world’s greatest trade routes, and in your book “The Ancient Tea Horse Road”, you’ve documented an 8-month groundbreaking expedition covering 6,000 kilometers through the Himalayas. Yet, very few people know about this trade route. Could you tell us a bit more about it, how you’ve managed to travel to some of the remotest places on earth, and the people you’ve met along the way? [10:28]
- Before we conclude, is there anything else you would like to add to what you’ve already shared with us? [15:29]
If you’ve enjoyed this interview and you’ve gained inspiration from it, the best way you can thank Jeff is by sharing this post with your friends and loved ones. Thank you!