Tracing Tea is a documentary about the history and culture of tea production and consumption in Asia and Europe. Produced by Maximum Exposure Productions, the focus of the series will be on a driving expedition from Darjeeling, the spiritual home of tea in India, back to the UK, the drink's greatest importer. The journey, which covers some 10,000 miles (16,000 km), will use two modified Indian auto rickshaws and aims to achieve two world records: a) the longest journey ever completed in a tuk-tuk and b) the world's highest tea party - on top of Pakistan's Khunjerap pass (4693m).
The official route comprises seventeen different countries as follows: India, Pakistan, China (Xinjiang province), Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France and finally Britain. The filming begins in July 2008 and will run until February the following year.
In each country, the series will look at how tea is produced and consumed, and how over the centuries, particularly in traditionally Islamic societies, the consumption of tea has become not just a drink but an elaborate social institution. Tea producing countries to be covered: India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and even the UK (Devon). Concurrently, the documentary will present themes and sights on a wider theme, from Islamic Architecture in Iran and Turkish cuisine to nomadic sports in Central Asia. Central to all the above will be the 'reality' element, following the progress of the three presenters as they battle terrain, the elements and the mechanical implications of doing the journey in auto-rickshaws.
The core crew comprises the director, Max Lovell-Hoare, producers Robin Forestier-Walker and Sophie Ibbotson and two main presenters Andrew Daynes and Sam Datta-Paulin. Previous crew members included Urvi Nagrani, Rosie Dell, and Aijan Temiralieva. Andrew Daynes has already made a five-month reconnoitre of the route in reverse, with a team of three, using a London taxi.