David Lee Hoffman is an American tea guru, inventor, educator, architect, ecologist, and world traveler who founded and directs The Last Resort, an ecology research center, and The Phoenix Collection, an archive of fine teas.
Hoffman is known in the tea world for introducing and popularizing fine handcrafted artisanal teas to the West. He began importing pu-erh teas from Nepal in the early 1970s, and eventually ventured into remote regions in China to seek out the world’s finest rare organic and wild pure leaf teas. Hoffman’s teas eventually gained wide popularity in the US, the Americas, and Europe. He became known in China as the “the American Pu-erh Tea King”, and is considered a leading authority on pu-erh’s. Hoffman has named several fine teas including Drum Mountain Clouds and Mist, Tongyu Mountain Green, and Camel’s Breath. He also was the first importer of flowering (“blossoming”) tea from China. He is the subject of filmmaker Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht’s 2007 documentary All In This Tea (stream on Amazon). Hoffman sold his Silk Road Tea company in 2004 and now runs The Phoenix Collection.
Hoffman developed his interest in teas during his extensive world travels to over 100 countries. He was amongst the first Americans to visit the remote Tibetan kingdom of Dolpo. In the early 1960s, Hoffman befriended the Dalai Lama while living in Dharamshala, India. Several Tibetan monks have contributed to the construction and creation of Hoffman’s eastern-inspired sustainable research center The Last Resort, in Lagunitas, California.
Prior to entering the tea world, Hoffman invented a unique sonic cleaning system for the cleaning of precious ancient textiles, fine art, and artifacts, and had several important clients including the New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the Textile Museum in Washington DC, the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, and the Smithsonian.