; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Budget, Black Friday and the Tea Shopping Forecast ;

Monday, November 7, 2016

Budget, Black Friday and the Tea Shopping Forecast

Here is my shopping forecast for the remainder of 2017. I wish the news is better, but it’s looking dire out there.

The cakes are getting even smaller, people.

You’d have to live under a rock to avoid the Great Shrinking. Down from 500g to 400g to 357g to 250g and then 200g. Now we are at 100g cakes. Yes, ma’am nearly every tea vendor has a 100g, check Bitterleaf, Misty Peaks, Denong Tea,white2tea, Crimson Lotus. While white2tea’s Treachery, Bitterleaf’s WMD Mansa at $88/100g teas are pricey, now we have Denong Bulang at $97/100g and Wymm Tea…well never mind you get the idea.

And then there are the small squares which have of course been around awhile at places like Taetea, but not at these prices we are seeing on top shelf tea named after cats or dogs. White, black and puerh teas are shrunk from turkey platter size down to teacup saucers. Tiny teacup saucers. You can bet your sweet caffeinated arse that we will be getting tea balls soon for $30.

The bottom line reality is that high end puerh tea costs go up every year, not down. Top quality tea you want to own is exempt from tea market bubbles. Not enough top tier tea exists for the prices to fall. More demand every year and less tea to satiate. Actually, there is a lot of tea around, just not the really fine stuff. I expect more sticks for the money and I can always buy charred medicine chop, but I just can’t drink that stuff anymore. So, buying the really good shit takes three hand jobs at the truck stop instead of just one, and I ain’t getting any younger.

I know tea bloggers have bitched for years about the prices, “I won’t pay more than $8 a cake they are charging $36 for.” Today we can just add another zero onto those numbers for the same gripe. The only upside to all this is I think the leaf we can get today is far superior, as is the processing. I will give the boutique vendors a huge amount of credit for upping the overall quality of what we are buying, assuming of course you want to pay the asking price. Teas are regularly selling out which suggests that yes people want the good stuff and they will pay.

We also have more mainstream people entering the buying experience who don’t want the commitment of storing puerh tea. Maybe they aren’t even sure they like puerh tea. Buying small, like 100g, is a way to give it a convenient college try. That’s yet another reason why I expect $30 tea balls. Someone will put top shelf tea into a single session for even less commitment, in just a matter of time.

More people loving their factory tea.

This is inevitable. Nobody wants to hear otherwise. Yes, truth is relative.

Online tea sites will continue to have annoying landing pages.

Why do tea vendors think a landing page with a photo, or worse a video is the best way to sell me lots of tea? They don’t seem to realize I might need to shop with a level of frantic anxiety on my phone. Zhentea.ca has a single tea on a landing page that I must click on in order to get to anything remotely resembling a menu. Bitterleaf Teas has a landing page, but when I click on teas I get a new page of meaningless symbols which are supposed to represent different puerh cakes. I was aghast when white2tea added a new landing page with a rain coat I can’t even buy, and then the sheng puerh can only be viewed by year rather than the option to see the whole raw lot. Wymm Tea…well never mind, you get the point.

These fancy sites share a design trend of the buying experience starting on a minimum of the third page we click on. Annoying landing pages mean that I will get busted at work for tea shopping on company time. Or the baby starts crying, or the kitten tears into the curtains and my data allowance is gone before I purchase anything. By the time I get to filling up a doom cart some guy from Taiwan with a mega wallet will buy it all up. I don’t want tea vendor hallucinatory design visions, I want the actual goods.

Sorry to direct you to a classic, but look at Yunnan Sourcing. Or even Chawangshop. I get a quick view of any new products, a helpful menu of links on the landing page that go directly to the tea I need, and a search box at the top. By the time I get to three pages I’ve viewed at least one tea I sought out for myself with reviews in three or more languages. Yunnan Sourcing will load on any browser including my clamshell phone which doesn’t have internet.

I need a landing page that goes directly to the tea I want to buy. I need a page called New Products or the option to sort Newly Listed.  If I can’t load your site in a war zone, we have a problem. Fix this shit now.

More opaque wrappers with questionable inks.

I’m seeing more thick paper that can’t possibly let in moisture. And I really wonder about all the inks, are they food grade? Maybe we need to start talking about removing the wrapper and storing it somewhere else. I don’t know about you but I’m seeing some bleed in my storage that isn’t the tea.

Puerh Tea Collectors eschew child bearing.

With tea prices skyrocketing, children are simply un-affordable now. I can buy a decent drinker for the price of a box of Pampers, and sheesh the buggers keep on costing and costing and costing. I know parents of young ones have plenty to grip about, but I have some bad news for you all. I’m still not rid of my grown one who expects me to pay the full utility bill every month and never buys me any tea whatsoever.

Nowadays you need to figure on the kid costing you well past the drinking age. You are bleeding out until he’s age thirty or over. This is how long you will wait before you can buy any tea. No good reason to pay for actual children when I can PayPal Tea Urchin instead. Forget that snuggly warm queen bed this winter and invest in single beds and preferably separate rooms if you hope to afford any tea in the future.

On Black Friday and 11/11, no vendor will have an actual sale.

Prove me wrong, please.


  1. $30 tea balls, you say?


    Uh oh

  2. Thanks Old Cwyn, signs of intelligence much needed today.

  3. White2Tea now also has the most recent additions to his shop on the landing page (under the rain coat pic) - for more efficient removal of cold hard cash from our wallets in exchange for hot and tasty tea in our tea cups ;-)

    1. I wholeheartedly welcome this change. How nice and easy to land my face squarely in the New Products Section the way God intends me to do. Thanks for reporting in!