Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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21 July 2005

Tea & TV: Palin's Himalaya

This summer, the Travel Channel (on cable and satellite in the U.S.) has been showing Michael Palin's Himalaya. Yes, this is the Michael Palin of the infamous British comedy troupe, Monty Python. For several years, he's devoted quite a bit of time to travel documentaries and books done for the BBC.

I really enjoyed watching the Himalaya series over the past few weeks. There are six 1-hour episodes, as he winds through passes and canyons in and around the Himalayan range. While the scenery is stunning, this is a not so much a nature documentary as it is a look at the cultures and the individuals Palin meets along the way in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Burma.

Palin is always entertaining, and he adds a gentle charm to the show. But the real stars of Himalaya are the people he meets, from rulers to shopkeepers, from the extremely wealthy to the extremely poor, from polo stars to headhunters, and from isolated villagers to crowded city dwellers.

There are also occasional glimpses of tea drinking or production. The final episode is centered around the Bay of Bengal, including a tea plantation in Assam. Occasionally I spied tea vendors or people serving tea in other episodes, as well as other tea plantations along the route. At one point (episode 5, I think), he was traveling along an ancient tea trade route. Discussions of tea are minimal, but if you're at all interested in finding out more about the culture and setting for some of the places where tea is produced, then this is a great documentary series.

The Travel Channel is replaying all six episodes this Sunday (July 24, 2005). You might not want to sit inside for 6 hours on a summer afternoon (or maybe you do, if you live where it’s been swelteringly hot this week). However, it’s definitely worth recording to watch later.

Just for kicks, I pulled up a couple of classic Monty Python tea bits:

Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

Lumberjack Song (by the way, Palin does a quick few lines of this in the fifth episode), click to listen


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