; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Puerh Shopping in the New Normal ;

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Puerh Shopping in the New Normal

The current pandemic has accelerated demand for online shopping in general which naturally slows the progress of our tea orders as shipping services attempt to keep up. I am hearing a lot of grumbling about slow tea orders which tells me people are still buying and wondering where their packages are. Hello to the new normal.

Express Shipping

Prices for express have increased enormously, and this is because express services are flight-based. Planes are grounded and airlines are struggling to stay in business. Demand is far higher than available service. I would not pay for Express shipping myself, I would either do cargo boat or do without.


This is the slow boat service which took two months prior to the new normal, and is now 3-4 months minimum. Boats are less affected in the new normal, but demand is even higher with flights grounded. Hence prices go up accordingly.

So, what can you do about tea shopping? Know that any shipping from Asia is going to take twice as long as before. Any shipping from outside your own country is longer. I recently ordered pet meds from New Zealand and this package took a month, which isn't too bad but twice as long as last year for the same order.

Thank goodness this wasn't tea ware.

Part of the grumbling I am hearing about is the increase of chargebacks by customers against tea companies for packages not arriving fast enough. This behavior is motivated in part by payment services like Paypal which has a 60 day refund window. If you don't get your package in this time frame, you can apply for a refund. However, this is killing tea sellers who rely on cargo boat shipping.

Should you order puerh from China at this time? Seems to me this divides buyers into two categories, the casual and the hardcore. Which are you? If you can't afford to wait out shipping times past a 60 day limit, consider yourself a casual buyer right now. Or just keep your orders to small amounts and place more orders rather than huge orders to keep your losses small if something doesn't arrive. While most sellers will reship, the fault is probably not in their control. Lost packages are both a cost of doing business, but also in the new normal a cost of the consumer if the tea ordered is no longer available.

A faster option is to look at tea buying closer to home. This favors the shopper who is looking for drinker quality tea, rather than collector quality. In fact, you might want to check local options before placing an overseas order to see if you can find an acceptable drinker to carry you through the new normal this year.

Give tea sellers a break, it isn't their fault shipping is so slow. Wait out an acceptable amount of time, if you choose boat shipping expect to wait four months. Contact the seller before doing a chargeback, you might get options like a reship or store credit. Again, if you can't afford to wait out the shipping, you probably can't afford tea buying.

Some retailers to consider:

Yunnan Sourcing has a US-based warehouse and is ramping up the offerings. Another retailer selling new tea is Crimson Lotus Tea with their Seattle-based Inventory selections. Surprise, you can buy some white2tea selections online from Macha Tea Company in Wisconsin. If you prefer Taiwan storage, consider either Beautiful Taiwan Teas or Teas We Like. In Canada, Vancouver-based Chinese Tea Shop is offering a 15% discount for online orders $60 and above.

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