Tea Quality Evaluation Standards with Austin Hodge
Time & Location
About the Event
We are honored to be hosting Austin Hodge, founder of the International Specialty Tea Association and President of Seven Cups Tea.
Please join us in this rare appearance by Austin Hodge in which he will speak about ITSA's mission to standardize guidelines for tea quality evaluation.
The Specialty Tea Manifesto
The tea industry is a fifty billion dollar a year business whose fastest-growing sector is called ‘Specialty Tea.’ ‘Specialty Tea’ must be defined to establish value and give meaning to the term.
There are no set standards for excellence in the global tea industry. Merchants, both in the past and now, have been able to get away with defining quality through marketing. This interpretive and loose value system has not benefitted producers, consumers, or small tea businesses.
The International Specialty Tea Association will strive to establish quality standards in tea making. The Specialty Tea Association will create an unbiased process for judging tea quality. This will result in the best teas setting the bar for standards of excellence, which will thereby define ‘Specialty Tea.’ The evaluating system will be easily understandable and learnable industry-wide and will be made available to the public.
Standards must be established to preserve the art of making tea and will guarantee a stabilized market whose focus and intent is on providing quality products to the consumer. The value of tea will then be determined by its production rather than how it is marketed. This will increase profits to producers and the people they employ. Standards will provide the platform on which small businesses can compete with the corporate tea companies that dominate the global market, and consumers will be able to recognize product value independent of marketing claims. Standards will cause better transparency in the supply chain and a better-educated industry.
Who is Austin Hodge
Seven Cups President, an entrepreneur with a focus on small international business development, dedicated to creative, sustainable, long term business modeling. Seven Cups was founded in 2002 and has won many awards. Seven Cups was named one of the best places in America to have tea by Travel and Leisure Magazine.
I started my study of Chinese tea in 1992. I became a member of the Chinese International Tea Culture Institute. I became the first American to be published in CITCI’s Journal. The paper was republished in tea trade magazines across China, and in 2011 was given the “Top Ten Outstanding Persons of China Award” for my contributions to Chinese tea culture, through writing and speaking in China, and Seven Cups representation of Chinese tea culture internationally. I have served two terms as the Honorary Director of the CITCI. (2009 >2013, 2014>2018) In 2015 I was asked to be on a panel of 24 advisors serving at the CITCI, only two being foreigners, a Japanese gentleman, and myself.
I am currently working to establishing international standards for excellence for Specialty Tea. In 2015 I founded the International Specialty Tea Association to serve that purpose. I was again published in the CITCI Journal again in 2016 and was the keynote speaker at their national conference. My talk was on standards and how they could be used along with changes in export laws to bring the over 300,000 small Chinese tea producers to the international market. I have also had extensive discussions with small producers in India and Africa, and the government officials in those countries on the same issues.
I have spoken on various aspects of tea in the US, Canada, England, Denmark, China, and India. Our website has been focused on publishing educational content since 2002. We publish articles about every aspect of tea and tea culture and have produced hundreds of instructional videos.
I have also had successful careers in the mental health profession, and in software development.