BDNow! Podcast 014 David Lee Hoffman and the Quest for Quality

David Lee Hoffman stands near a 700 year old tree in a scene from All in this Tea, a movie about his efforts to locate quality teas in China for his American clients

“My love of the planet is greater than my fear of the law,” -David Lee Hoffman

He’s been called “The Indiana Jones of Tea” by nothing less than The New York Times, more accurately, though, he’s the best candidate I’ve seen for the title of “The World’s Most Interesting Man.”

Play or Download HERE
Here’s just a few of his qualifications for that title:

  • As a young man, he invented a unique sonic cleaning system for cleaning valueable ancient textiles, artifacts and fine art that is used to this day by major museums
  • Spent over 10 years as a consciencous objecter wandering over 100 countries, developing the knowledge and appreciation of teas that lead to the development of his tea importation and education programs and the sustainable architectural insights that lead him to build his testimonial to  sustainable living,   The Last Restort
  • He was amongst the first Americans to visit the remote Tibetan kingdom of Dolpo.
  • In the early 60’s he met and became a friend of His Holiness, the Dali Lama while living in Dharamshala, India
  • Started the first quality tea companies in America and pretty much started the modern Tea Movement in the US, single handedly finding quality artisinal organic teas in remote areas of China (well before China loosened up economically), importing them into the US and then conducting ‘tea tastings’ across the country promoting knowledge of tea among Americans, leading to the first awakening to tea of many of today’s tea gurus
  • He became known in China as the “the American Pu-erh Tea King”
  • Sold his tea company and started growing heirloom grains and doing artisinal baking because he observed that the traditional grains still used in Asia smelled a lot better while backing and felt more like food when eaten than were the industrialized grains of America.
  • Started a new tea company, The Phoenix Collection,  for which he hunts for teas, imports, selling wholesale and direct over the internet
  • He is the subject of filmmaker Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht’s 2007 outstanding documentary,  All In This Tea
  • As an architect, he designed, and continues to build, THE LAST RESORT, an environmental model of sustainable and harmonious living that attempts to assimilate both natural methods from the past with modern know-how to create a living system that effectively demonstrates possibilities of thriving in a non-polluting healthy environment. Its mission is to discover and perfect practical low-cost sustainable methods for waste management, water re-use, and food security.
  • Was trained by acrobats from Circques du Sole on how to safely install tiles on the highest roof of The Last Resort
  • Recycled extra slate tiles from Eagle Don Henley’s home construction for a section of the main roof of The Last Resort
  • Several Tibetan monks contributed to the construction and creation of The Last Resort
  • Probably the the most interesting: Marin County wants over $200,000 from David Lee Hoffman right now to pay for 40 years of failing to get permits for his  sustainability demonstration projects – – or licensing for his tea businesses. If he doesn’t pay, they threaten to raze The Last Resort 

On top of this, he’s a recognized expert in vermiculture and soil fertility.

The reason we requested an interview with him for Biodynamics Now! is because of the insights into Quality (in foods and in living) that he demonstrated in All in This Tea and through his tea companies, tea teaching and his work with heirloom grains and The Last Resort. Frankly, we’d need to spend 3 more hours with him (at least) in order to even begin to cover his insights into this area.

It appears to me that everything he does is for the betterment of everyone, now and in the future.

Blessed are they who earn their livelihood without harming others


David Lee Hoffman’s homepage is here (as is his current tea company, The Phoenix Collection)

The best page on The Last Resort is here

The New York Times’ Article on The Last Resort is here


David mentions Monica Spiller’s work with Ancient Grains during the interview. Monica Spiller is known as THE GRANDMOTHER OF HEIRLOOM WHEAT

Her heirloom grain initiative is The Whole Grain Connection.

Welcome to the Whole Grain Connection.We are a non-profit organization based in California, aiming to enhance the desirability and availability of whole grain breads and other whole grain products from organically and sustainably grown grains and thereby connecting farmers and bakers.We hope you will visit our website often for our latest website publications and activities. 
Contact information:
Attn: Monica Spiller
Whole Grain Connection
500 West Middlefield Road #2
Mountain View
California 94043

Telephone: 650 938 2865


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