Specialty Tea Category

Close view from above of two wide porcelain cups of dark tea and two display dishes of dry black tea leaves, surrounded by fresh pink bougainvilleas.

Fresh summer peaches and good black tea.

Newsletter Archive Jun. 10, 2022 Zhuping continues to bring in ripe summer peaches from her backyard tree for us here in Tucson, and just in time for the local peach season, 2022’s harvests of Tongmu Zui Chun Fang (Drunken Peach) and Tongmu Lapsang Souchong are here as well. As usual, these two teas come to… // MORE


Brewing two green teas in a tall glass bottle filled with very long green leaves and a round squat pitcher with rounded small single leaves dancing in it, set on a wooden tray next to a classical white and blue Chinese vase.

Strange Days, Strange Teas

Newsletter Archive May 27, 2022 We are proud to present a fresh crop of Tai Ping Houkui and Lu’an Gua Pian, two more green teas from Spring 2022. Both teas were made using unique, traditional and meticulous methods; their styles are so singular and bizarre that they aren’t replicated anywhere else in the tea world.… // MORE




A compressed round cake of white moonlight tea

The Complex Identity of Yue Guang Bai “White Moonlight”

Yue Guang Bai (White Moonlight) is one of the most beloved teas in our catalog. Yet despite its popularity, it seems to be a difficult tea to categorize.  Is it sheng puer? Its Yunnan origins and its tangy, herbaceous aromatics suggest it could be. It lacks sheng puer’s typical astringency, though. Is it white tea?… // MORE


Two different years of Ming Qian An Ji Bai Cha green tea leaves side by side. The fresh is green and the aged is brown.

What’s So Special About Aged Tea?

Though somewhat counterintuitive, aged tea is in fact a recent phenomenon. Before the 21st century, fresh tea was always considered to be the best. However, while it is true that freshly made teas tend to have the strongest and brightest aromas, many types of tea develop fascinating new flavors and textures with time. Tea that… // 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





The picking standard of Shui Xian Wuong tea leaves. Zhong Kai Mian and Xiao Kai Mian.

A Short and Handy Guide to Wulong Processing

Harvesting & Picking Standards If there was ever a sign of how sophisticated the western tea-drinker has become, it’s the large number of technical questions we now receive from our customers. Wulong tea is frequently the subject of these questions, and so to help our customers, we’ve written a short guide to its harvesting seasons… // MORE



A bamboo wrapped tong of puer cakes.

The “Raw” Appeal of Puer Tea

A few weeks back, Austin clunked a pint glass down on my desk. The glass was loaded to its rim with steeping leaves – thick, stemmy, Yunnan tea tree leaves. He told me it was young sheng puer and he demanded I have a sip. I had an empty stomach, but as an employee I… // MORE


The Radical Tea For the Anti-Establishment

Lu’an Gua Pian – Punk Rock Green Tea While some sources allege that Lu’an Gua Pian green tea was designed for political elite, and once a favorite of PRC premiere Zhou Enlai, I can’t help but feel there is something seriously anti-establishment about this tea – both in terms of its flavor and the processes… // MORE


Mechanical harvesting of Shui Xian

Field Notes – Wuyishan Wulong II

WuYi Cultivar #105 “Huang Guan Yin” | Shui Xian The following are excerpts taken from a collection of notes authored by Zhuping on April 22nd 2014 in Wuyishan. I picked out two sections of notes that focus on two Wuyi cultivars, one very well known and celebrated, and one widely used but rarely discussed.  My own… // 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


Bai Ji Guan bush seen here growing

Field Notes – Wuyishan Wulong I

Bai Ji Guan   This is excerpt from a batch of Zhuping’s notes sent back from the Wuyi Mountains a few days ago. These notes are part of an effort to pair teas in our catalog with detailed pictures of their bush varieties. I thought they were an excellent explanation of not only a specific… // 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