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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson teahouse Seven Cups offers Chinese delights to students, locals alike

    Will Ferguson
    Lydia Stern/Daily Wildcat Andrew Mcneill, an East Asian Studies junior, serves tea to Zita Ingham at Seven Cups on Wednesday.

    From the moment you walk into Seven Cups on Sixth Street and Tucson Boulevard, the scents of fine teas and soft sounds of Chinese music envelop you within the authentic atmosphere.

    Customers sit in wooden chairs with intricate leaf and flower designs at finely crafted wooden tables and drink tea, which is carefully picked directly from the source in China. The bi tan piao xue (snow drop jasmine) tea, a scented loose-leaf tea, has a delicate, soothing, floral flavor.

    Glass, porcelain and clay tea sets rest on shelves along the side of the teahouse, boasting designs that feature everything from flowers to mountains to cranes. Red oblong lanterns glow above the tables, and hang as though they are floating in mid-air. People speak in quiet tones, contributing to the serene ambiance of the space.

    Seven Cups opened in Tucson almost eight years ago, originating from farmers markets, said teahouse manager Cora Branson.

    Every year, husband and wife Austin and Zhuping Hodge, the owners of Seven Cups, travel to China to pick teas directly from tea growers and producers, making sure to obtain the highest quality with no pesticides.

    Picking teas from the source is an important process that requires great knowledge of the tea world, Branson said. Teas picked earlier in the year have lower caffeine content and higher nutritional value. The amino acids also give first-picked tea a sweeter flavor.

    Seven Cups offers a variety of different categories including green, yellow, white, scented, wu long, black and puer, a type of fermented tea. Branson’s favorite “depends on the day,” she said. “Right now, I’m really into puer tea.”

    Qilaishan Long Wu (Dragon’s Fog) wu long is the current favorite of Samantha Banchy, a teahouse staff member.

    Tea-viewing is an art and tea masters are artists, Branson once heard Austin Hodge say. These people are virtually unknown and Seven Cups strives to tell their stories. The fact that the Hodges hand-pick the teas and personally meet the people who grow them makes Seven Cups stand out from most other tea houses, Banchy said.

    She also said having a tea ceremony with Zhuping Hodge is a rewarding experience that gives you great insight into Chinese culture.

    “Zhuping is the light of this place,” Banchy said.

    Every Friday, Seven Cups offers free tea tasting from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. And to keep you cool during the summer months, the teahouse serves iced tea from April through November.

    Whether you are a tea connoisseur or just looking to try something new, Seven Cups in Tucson is a cultural gem and a worthwhile experience for anyone.

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