Of course I always carry a large purse because one never knows when an opportunity might arise to help oneself to free samples and tea ware. If you think you're a tea ware hoarder, you need to see what some of these tea vendors are holding. They have way too much tea ware, and I'm certain nobody will actually buy it. Also, because there are so many pieces just lying around, one or two simply won't be missed. At least not for awhile. Everyone is all about Impressions and Looks these days, so it helps that I'm just a little old lady with a big purse and nobody pays the slightest attention to me. In fact, if you're on the young-ish side of life, you can look forward to your wisdom years when tea ware hoarding turns into a full time job.
Some tea shops like Yunnan Sourcing keep big dogs around like Dobermans. These dogs are most definitely trained to look out for hostile activity, and you need to plan ahead and go cautiously.
|Hazards like Yunnan Sourcing's dog require preparations.|
photo courtesy of TeaDB.org
When you get to the tea shop, the first thing to do is order a sampler tasting of the best tea they have. Usually this means the most expensive. Here your superior knowledge about tea really comes in handy, because when you order the best tea in the shop and then turn up your nose and start scouring the tea wall again, they know you mean serious business. They surmise correctly that you are looking for some unknown criteria which they cannot possibly guess and this initiates a cycle of staff confusion. Then you'll get two workers helping you and not just one. Very often a second worker comes over because they think the person waiting on you is out of their depth and needs some help from one who has more experience. But don't worry, that experienced person trying to take you on is just as easy to fool as the first one by saying things like "I think the AliShan is just a bit watery this year compared to last," or "I prefer Ruyao in the traditional blue rather than the green, don't you?"
The whole idea here is to use a method of Split and Divide on the staff. Hopefully you can get at least one worker into the back of the shop to rummage for special stock that isn't on the floor. In this way, you can eliminate scrutiny from at least one person while you're looking around. You should also suggest a tea cake online that you can't remember the name of, and see if they will look it up for you and check their stock. Not only does this keep the counter person busy, but the computer is tied up too because you don't want anyone looking at the security cams until after you leave. If you find yourself at a loss, mention your cancer and all the nausea from chemo and that never fails to get them busy finding a whole pile of teas for you. But you definitely must avoid whipping out that Tea Sommelier certificate or mumbling about your blog, because you want to keep the staff moving and focused on the Big Sale. Your real expertise will just stop everyone to gape in awe and you don't want that.
Instead, you want to make sure the staff scurries to get tea bowls and tasting spoons and all the proper equipment needed for sampling in order to occupy themselves while you pursue your real goal with the tea ware displays. After all, tea shops don't have any tea you would seriously even consider drinking, much less buying. The real reason for your trip to an actual shop like this is therefore the new over-priced tetsubin you'd rather not pay shipping for, or the teapot you really need to show off on Imgur. Hopefully you've eyed up the stock on the way and zeroed in upon a target.
|Dress inconspicuously and carry a large purse.|
For example, the first rule a Zen tea geek follows is the Principle of Non-Attachment. This means they don't care a single thing about material goods. In fact, you're really and truly doing them a favor by relieving them of too much tea ware that no one is going to buy anyway. A Zen hanging on to tea ware is the same thing as a Christian with a gun. It's against their religion. The only difference between these two is the level of non-attachment, so you're better off trying to relieve a Zen of his tea ware than part the Christian from his gun. I'm certain this is completely logical to real hoarders because you are clearly far too intelligent to buy into baloney like non-attachment and non-violence when the reality in front of you is to have bigger hoard than anyone else no matter the cost. Luckily this is all a righteous act of plumbing by freeing up a tea shop from unnecessary material goods which only clog the way to enlightenment, and lord knows how many clogs life has already. This is how to best serve the younger generation in your old age after all.
Ideally you'll also have the chance to sample a half dozen teas for free. Under no circumstances should you use the bathroom, no matter how much tea you drink nor how badly you need to go. That makes your ploy all too obvious and amateurish: ducking into the bathroom in a retail establishment is a dead give-away. Far better to have a li'l accident whooops that sends the staff scurrying for the mop and fumigation because you can't possibly bend down yourself to clean it up, which isn't hard to pretend after you've slammed down a few too many green oolongs. At this point, they will be more than eager to see you gone.
I highly recommend having a change of clothing in the car, including a hat. This is especially important if you've had that accident in the tea shop I described above, in order to keep the seat clean. I don't really bother about it myself, but a wet seat can get on some people's tits if you need to share the car. But a disguise can't hurt, especially if the tea shop is located in your own town. Locals can be such busybodies.
When you get home I know you'll feel tempted, as I do, to immediately photograph and publish your new acquisitions online. But for obvious reasons, you might want to refrain from doing so, at least for a little while. It helps that pretty much everything you find in a tea shop these days is on Aliexpress by no fewer than 3 dozen sellers. Having a few "real" tea ware invoices printed out from there is a wise back-up measure. Printing the last twenty pages of orders will surely confuse anyone who happens to inquire, but the likelihood of this happening is fairly low if you've managed to get this far with your new stash.
Visiting tea shops is definitely lucrative and worth the time. If you have a buddy to go along for the gig, you can hit two places in one day and share expenses for paper towels, doggy biscuits and whatnot. Not to mention any impromptu necking inspired by all the tea excitement. And anything you don't need, go right ahead and mail it over to me. Just tell me what shop it's from, so I can cross that one off my list.
Requiescat in Pace.