Monday April 24, 2006

Reading this blog post today got me thinking about an incident in Hong Kong this past winter. I was in Sunsing trying teas with the very rude staff, and there was this guy standing around, copying down the names and prices of all the puerh cakes around. He seemed to be a collector, or so I thought.

Turns out this guy is more like a speculator, someone who was clearly sucked in by the hype that the tea merchants created. At one point during his copying, he was chatting with one of the staff members. One of the things he said — and this I remembered very clearly — was that he had recently bought a whole bunch of cakes that he thought were really good and aged. He thought he found a treasure trove. Turns out they are all cooked puerh cakes, therefore really not worth much. Then he asked the staffer “so how do you tell a cooked from a raw cake? I have no idea what the difference is”.

Needless to say, I was rather astounded by this statement. Someone who doesn’t know how to tell cooked from raw really shouldn’t be buying tea cakes, especially in large quantities. From the sound of it, this guy was simply a speculator, trying to buy cakes and make money off them by aging them. At least learn to distinguish them before buying! Not knowing what you’re getting, and not knowing how to tell the difference, is only going to mean lots of tuition fees and getting scammed in a major way.

I think for those of us who like to drink tea and are passionate about it, the risk is not that much — after all, we enjoy what we buy. For people who are just buying it for profit, however… good luck to them, and thanks for driving the prices up.


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