A Tea Addict's Journal

Entries from January 2021

15 years

January 28, 2021 · 4 Comments

Someone on the tea discord pointed out to me that my blog is now 15 years old. I started it on a whim sitting in the Quincy dining hall, waiting for some meeting. For the first 5 or 6 years of this blog, it was basically a diary of what tea I drank. Back then, everything was pretty new – at least new enough. There were a number of blogs out there each chattering in their own way. Most of them have fallen silent, while there are a handful of (relative) newcomers such as Cwyn’s blog or Wilson’s. Blogs, as we all know, has moved on.

After this blog moved to my own domain, I started writing less of the “daily tea” type of post and started writing more topical ones. I had felt that with enough time under my belt, I could start to say something interesting about things I’ve learned through the years of tea drinking. I don’t think very many people ever look at the old “daily tea” type of posts, but I know people still refer to some of the longer form pieces I’ve done since then.

Then of course, between work, kids, and a general lack of things that I feel I haven’t covered, posts trickled to a crawl. My main tea stash doesn’t live with me at the moment, so trying things from my own storage is difficult. I should, however, really work on cataloging my pots, even if just for my own use. I hope to work on that this year.

Online activity has now turned to other social media sites. There’s a vast array of content on Instagram, although I’ve always found that medium to be too superficial, more suited for marketing than anything else. Joining the tea discord recently (thanks to an invite from a kind soul) has rekindled that feeling that I talked about in 2007 of a “Constant Tea Meeting,” where people are, now in real time, sharing their tea escapades. Reading their comments, I feel old. On Sunday my time (Saturday night 9PM EST) I’ll be doing a livestream with Crimson Lotus Tea on their Youtube channel. I don’t know what we’ll talk about, but I’m guessing it might have to do with tea.

No, this isn’t the “I’m going to shut this down” post, even though every time I write something like this it sounds like that’s where it’s headed. If anything, seeing people refer to my random thoughts from the distant past tells me I should keep this up. I should probably spend a little more time to fix this place up and make sure I have a backup in case anything happens. In any case, maybe I’ll see a few of you on Youtube in a couple days.

Categories: Teas

Taobao price controls

January 3, 2021 · 5 Comments

I was just randomly browsing through Taobao the other day, looking to maybe buy a couple cakes of those mid-2000s Dayi that I finished up during the pandemic. Except, they’re all gone, and the seller that I bought them from no longer sells any Dayi of any kind. This was unusual, since he used to have quite a few of them and it’s unlikely he’s sold out of all. Now his store only sells stuff like Nanqiao… and nobody wants to buy mid-2000s Nanqiao when Dayi is only a little more expensive.

So I DMed the guy and asked what was happening. Turns out, recently something was going on and Dayi basically managed to get Taobao to kick off all these small time tea sellers selling Dayi. Now when you search for Dayi, the only people who sell them on Taobao are the official stores, and at prices that are way higher than what was possible only a few months ago. If you look for, say, 7542 from 10+ years ago, you get less than 20 hits. Previously, you’ll get literally endless pages of the stuff. Granted, there was a fair amount of fakes in there, and you have to be careful, but there were also lots of sellers selling real tea among them. Now they’re all gone. I can still get the tea from the guy I DMed if I want, but that’s not really something you can do if you don’t know Chinese or if you don’t already know who has the good stuff.

This means that if you are bargain hunting on Taobao, that door has just closed. It’s possible to find older teas from small producers that could be good, but those are a real lottery ticket and it’s very risky to do so. If you just want some cheap Dayi, chances are finding a vendor who is located in Guangdong and has physical access to a place like Fangcun is now the better bet.

This is a troubling development. It’s probably done in the name of protecting the brand and to kick out counterfeit goods, but also ends up stopping people from undercutting officially set prices. So, just know that if you now go on Taobao to check prices… what you see is not what really happens in the market place. A lot of these teas from the big brands are being traded at a level lower than what you see on retail there. You can go to www.donghetea.com or something like that to check wholesale prices, but that still doesn’t give you access to the retail market unless you already know someone who’s there.

Categories: Teas
Tagged: ,