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


TieLuoHan Picking Standard

Quality Standards for Specialty Tea | Part One

The Tea Industry and its Misuse of the Term “Quality Tea” There is no definition for specialty tea. The dictionary defines specialty as “ a product of a special kind or of special excellence”. The tea industry uses the word as a descriptor for tea that has no relationship to quality. The tea industry uses… // 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




Rou Gui Chocolate Mousse Tarts

If you have never taken a sip of piping hot rock wulong tea and immediately followed it with a square of good chocolate, letting it melt luxuriously on your tongue as it mingles with the rich, complex aftertaste… Well, what on Earth are you waiting for? Oh, you want both flavors in one convenient recipe?… // MORE


Stored 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


Raspberry Hibiscus Lemon Tart

With summer well underway, it’s a good time to break out a zesty and refreshing recipe! I had never tried hibiscus tea until I began working at the tea house, and my first taste was certainly a shock — I hadn’t anticipated such a mouth-puckeringly sour flavor from a flower. My train of thought went… // MORE


The Radical Tea For the Anti-Establishment

Liu An Gua Pian – Punk Rock Green Tea While some sources allege that Liu 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… // MORE


Field Notes: Wuyishan Wulong – Part 2

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 comments are included in italics. Wuyi Cultivar #105 … // MORE


The Price of Longjing

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


Field Notes – Wuyishan Wulong

  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 picking standard but… // MORE


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


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


The Niche of Yellow Tea

Rare and Elusive Yellow Tea: Now Less Rare (But Still Elusive) Years ago I had the good luck to hear a veteran tea maker give a lecture on processing techniques that bracket one category of tea from another. His talk passed through great detail on the chemical contours a tea leaf and how manipulating them… // MORE


Matcha Recipes: Ginger Cupcakes with Matcha Buttercream

Spring is officially here — Or, as most Arizonans think of it, “Summer: The Saga Begins”. It’s the time when ice creams and iced teas are coming back in vogue, and bakers are tucking away our rich, spicy, warming winter recipes and looking for something that blooms with more delicate characteristics. Swiss meringue buttercream is… // MORE


A Foodie’s Perspective on Tea

Tea is many things to many people; a beverage, a ritual, a medicine, a comfort. Whether it’s sustaining you through a busy day, bringing family and friends together, enhancing your health and wellness, or warming your body and soul, tea is a common link between many different cultures, and the way that each culture prepares… // MORE