Posts By: Austin Hodge



A group of people around a table with a dozen teas set out for tasting.

Trade War, Tariffs, and Tea

Trade War With China From the beginning of American history China has been an important trading partner. One of the causes of the American Revolution was the monopoly of the East India Company that made it illegal for us to trade with China directly. Tea was the key element in that trade, helping to make… // MORE



Spring Teas Arrive In The Desert

Shi Feng Long Jing Spring teas arriving brings a lot of joy to our little warehouse in the desert. It is bittersweet this year because of the passing of Weng Shang Yi, the maker of our Shifeng Longjing. He lived to be 90 years old. He started making Longjing when he was fourteen, 1943. During… // MORE



Puer tea producer's storage area.

How Are Puer Cakes Made?

Where the Indentation in a Puer Cake Comes From This brief under-two-minute educational video is packed with information. If you’ve ever wondered how puer tea cakes are made or just where that funny indentation comes from, then take a couple minutes to watch this video. The video takes off from the point where mao cha… // MORE



Tasting Chinese Tea At TRA

Can I Judge the Quality of My Tea by Taste Alone?

Paradoxically, taste is both the least important and most important elementwhen it comes to establishing the quality of a specialty tea. Taste is the least important element in that taste is, after all, dependent on the individual. What tastes bad to some tastes good to others.


A woman evaluating tea aroma by smelling a gaiwan full of tea.

What Does the Aroma of My Tea Say About Its Quality?

Tea Aroma as a Standard for Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post on tea color as a… // MORE


What Does the Color of My Tea Say About Its Quality?

Tea Color as a Standard for Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post, the impact the percentage… // MORE


Silver Needle drying naturally in the sun.

Why Does the Moisture Content of My Tea Leaves Matter?

The Percentage of Moisture Remaining as a Standard For Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post on how… // MORE


How Does the Way Tea Is Processed Impact Its Quality?

Processing as a Standard For Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post on the tea master as… // MORE


Yancha Tea maker in the roasting room

How Does the Tea Maker Impact My Tea’s Quality?

Tea Maker as a Standard For Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post on the impact of the… // MORE


Leaves from a Qi Lan Wulong Tea Cultivar with notes

What Do the Genes of a Tea Bush Say About Quality Tea?

Tea Cultivar as a Standard For Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post on the impact of the… // MORE


Plucking young tea leaves in China

How Does the Timing of a Harvest Impact a Tea’s Quality?

 Harvest Date as a Standard For Specialty Tea This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post on how the environmental conditions… // MORE


Tea Bushes in Wuyishan National Park

How Does Origin Contribute to the Authentication of Tea?

The Origin as a Standard For Specialty Tea  This post is part of a continuing series of writings by Seven Cups founder, Austin Hodge, for the International Specialty Tea Association. The aim of this series is to detail twelve elements that can be used to authenticate and value specialty tea. The previous post, on plucking and leaf… // MORE



The condition of the leaf is one of the standards for specialty tea. Here is a picture of Anji Bai Cha Tea Bush leaves.

How Does the Condition of the Leaf Impact My Tea’s Quality?

The Leaf As a Standard for Specialty Tea The first element in evaluating quality in specialty tea is the finished tea leaf. The examination of the leaf tells many stories. With few exceptions, a well-processed tea leaf should be completely intact, unbroken, pristine, with wulongs being one of the exceptions. This element is the first to… // MORE







A handful of Shi Feng Dragon Well

The Price of Long Jing

A Major Error In The Reporting of Longjing Prices and What the Real Prices Were in 2014. Every year there is much talk about the price of Longjing, 2014 being no exception. Most of the talk is hype, reporting the extraordinary prices that some Chinese businessman or government official has spent for Longjing. However, these… // MORE


Zesty Orange Doughnuts with Black Tea Cream

Recipe – Zesty Orange Doughnuts with Black Tea Cream

Doughnuts are the type of pastry that seem daunting, but are in fact fairly easy to make. They do take time, however; this is a recipe that is easiest when started the night before, because the separate components need time to rest in the refrigerator. Brioche is a buttery, slightly sweet yeast dough that yields… // MORE


A picture of Tong Mu and Qimen

Charles Grey, Earl Grey – A Peculiar Tale of Black Tea

Earl Grey Tea Origins Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, and in the western hemisphere, the majority of the tea enjoyed is black tea. Perhaps the most popular and recognizable variation is Earl Grey tea, a slightly smokey blend infused with the essence of bergamot orange rind, probably in an attempt to… // MORE


Tea in a pint glass

How Tea is Consumed in Some Other Parts of China

Tea Drinking Habits of Ethnic Minorities in China A large part of launching our new website includes a brief (considering how intricate tea history is) scope through the history of Chinese tea.  I’ve been lucky to be presented with the opportunity to sit down with our tea master and owner, Zhuping and receive a one… // MORE


My Tea Blog is Ten Years Old

November 2013 was the tenth anniversary of my tea blog. When I first started the idea of blogging was relatively new. There were just a few political blogs, and many of these were focused on reporting.