Moving a good amount of tea is hard work. Last night I packed up my tea cakes as best I could, by first tying them into tongs of varying sizes, then double wrapping them in food bags that are more or less like saran-wraps, I then hauled the tea over to the post office here with my girlfriend helping me. The thing about China Post is that all packages must be inspected before they are sealed — they want to know what’s going into them boxes here in China. At the post office closest to me, the guy who does the packaging said he can’t ship tea like this — too much tea is considered commercial goods, and have to go through the central international post office. Thankfully, that’s not too far away, and we went there — only to discover that there’s no restriction on tea export (as I have guessed). It’ll be insane to tax goods going out of your country, after all.
Most of the time packaging is also sold through the post office. There are almost no stores that will sell you paper boxes here — people reuse old ones, mostly, and if you’re shipping stuff, you buy it from the post office (since you have to bring stuff over for them to inspect anyway, it’s almost pointless to pre-pack anything). Unfortunately, most of the boxes there are not the right sized, so I couldn’t put all my tongs in one or two box, as I have hoped. Instead, I put about two tongs of tea in each box, buffered by other things including my loose teas, canisters, teaware, etc etc…. all in all, it took about 5 boxes to send all my tea related stuff over to Hong Kong. Most of the stuff will then stay in Hong Kong, at least for the near foreseeable future — I think my puerh will age better there than anywhere else, and since I’ll be moving around a lot… it’s better to stick them in one place.
Meanwhile, I am traveling to Shanghai tomorrow, with only one tea that I didn’t pack up — a maocha I bought on one of my very first trip to Maliandao this year. The rest… I’ll have to find my good friends who own more tea than I do to supply me for a few days while I’m there 🙂