; Cwyn's Death By Tea: No One Cares What's In Your Closet ;

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

No One Cares What's In Your Closet

Your puerh closet, that is.

I don’t enjoy bringing you the bad news, but no one gives a flying fart what sort of puerh collection you have. Or what sort of puerh collection I have. Too many tea collectors lately fall headfirst into what I consider social media “envy,” or what researchers have dubbed “Facebook envy.” I can adapt some of the research questions used to measure Facebook envy to tea, and let’s see how we puerh collectors fare. I lifted these statements from the peer-reviewed journal Computers in Human Behavior 43(139-46) and adapted them for my use. Do you ever feel any of the following?

My Tea Collection generally feels inferior to others.

It’s so frustrating to see some people always have good tea.

It somehow doesn’t seem fair that some people seem to have the good tea connections.

I wish I could purchase the teas that some of my friends do.

Many of my tea friends have better tea than me.

Many of my tea friends are happier with their tea collection than me.

My tea collection is better than that of my friends.

Chances are, if you spent any time looking at tea photos or time on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or tea chat forums or blogs, either you or others display some of the feelings behind these statements. How many times did you wish you had more money to spend on tea, or that others seem to have more “prestigious” teas, or give the impression they are drinking better tea than what you possess? Or conversely, do you find yourself snorting when some newbie presents a proud photo of a newly acquired Xiaguan tuo and you feel glad because you would never do any of that?

Do you see a culture arising of terms used to judge the tea collections of others? Are you one of the tong people, or stamp collectors? I like to write about tong people in jest, but now terms like this are used to determine whether you are serious, whether you have tongs of drinkers or stamps of single stellar teas. Tongs display your wealth more than stamps. Tongs display how much of a tea you think you will drink.

Are you developing thoughts that special tea buying groups exist that leave you out? At the extreme, we have some idea of “tea masonry” developing, secret clubs for people with money and connections. I am shocked how many people buy into this idea. First off, no one in the west has access to the tiers of tea kept in China, and even at the millionaire level, hell at any buying level, someone is laughing all the way to the bank.

Social media creates foolishness at every level. On the surface, nothing is wrong with enjoying beautiful photos of tea, but any time spent thinking and drawing conclusions from forums, blogs and tea photos that relate to your collection vis-à-vis those of others is time and energy wasted on illusions. Facebook is not a collection of happy people in happier relationships with well-adjusted children taking expensive vacations, they are people in relationships with children on vacation period. Chats and blogs and photos are well-crafted affairs, constructed truth, not real truth. The real truth is people buy tongs they will never finish, tea ware they wish they’d never bought, and people own single teas they try to sell on forums at a loss to raise money. For every tong someone buys, another person is trying to sell that same tea. In other words, people spend at least as much energy unhappy with their tea as they spend in happy moments with their tea. Everyone has teas they are happy to own, and teas that really should be tossed.

More truth: there is always more tea. There will always be more opportunities to buy tea at every level. How much do you wanna spend? The truth is, you can learn just as much putting away a piece of every tea you drink and storing that piece to see how it changes, just as you can from drinking tongs of factory tea. The truth is people posting tea photos of fabulous tea today will post again tomorrow. You can choose to think about those updates, or instead spend time with your own tea collection enjoying the changes. The truth is, the vast majority will never own a 1950s Red Mark. The truth is, at least one tea you own right now will be very nice to drink tomorrow.

No one cares what is in my puerh closet except for me. I clean my own closet and I don’t worry about everyone else.


  1. Great post. Thank you.

    To your point about social media: I recently unfollowed some well-known tea vendors on fbgram. Limited releases that sell out quickly, exclusive grammable wares, a relentless barrage of New New Buy Buy... I had a moment of clearly seeing that consuming this was just causing unwanted craving and unnecessary dissatisfaction, and frankly I've been tea-happier since.

  2. Cwyn,

    Thought provoking article as always. I must admit that I read the blogs, and the videos and talk about tea endlessly with my spouse. I don’t know much about others collections though nor care much about that. I agree strongly with the notion that there is always more tea, and I have plenty on hand in my own closet I do fall into one of your “traps” in that I do like to benchmark my teas against many of those discussed so I buy mostly samples these days to compare them to. I guess this is me validating my collection. But it is such fun to do....

  3. haha totally agree! Also, even though pu erh increases in value with time - at the end of the day isn't it there to drink and enjoy, rather than to gather dust? :-P
    Tatjana from teapro