It’s been a week of big honors for Austin. So big, he had to ask me to write a blog entry about it, fearing if he made these announcements himself he’d lose his all-important façade of modesty.
Jokes aside, we were proud to learn this week that our own Austin Hodge is the first American elected as an honorary director of the Chinese International Tea Culture Institute. As the foremost think tank of tea scholars in China, the group works to promote Chinese tea domestically and internationally in addition to its administrative function of appointing the leaders of every local tea council around China. You may remember that Austin spoke at their symposium last June, presenting his paper on Chinese tea in the international market (again, being the first American to do so.)
To be selected is a high accolade for Austin. Austin and Zhuping have been studying with the group from the beginning of Seven Cups, a relationship that helped them learn a lot about the Chinese tea industry and grow connections to local tea producers around China’s countryside. Now, it is in recognition of Austin’s dedication to working directly with these producers and promoting their tea abroad that the institute’s directors have voted for his appointment.
If the boss man wasn’t already on a roll this week with that honor, he can count another feather in his cap. I’ve been alerted that Austin and the Seven Cups teahouse show up in the backdrop of Laura Fitzgerald’s newly published novel, One True Theory of Love. The story’s protagonist makes a visit to the teahouse just in time for Austin to appear and quote some Sufi poetry. Pretty cool!