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Viewing 21 posts - 1 through 21 (of 21 total)
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  • #7571

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    I’ll start with a few comments to @jackie‘s answer:
    While it may seem easy to compare the prices of unflavored teas online, I’d say it is mostly impossible to do so. The only cases where it is possible (within limitations) is with a ‘branded’ product like a specific pu-erh cake (the limitations come from the myriad of falsely labelled and fake products out there). How would you compare the price of, say a Yunnan Golden Bud from brand A and brand B? They might look similar on the product pictures but, on the wholesale market, might have a price difference of 100-400%. And just because brand A labels their product as super premium doesn’t mean that it actually is that.
    You also might think that you’re on the safe side with teas from former British colonies that have the familiar “quality” labels such as SFTGFOP. Not good, either, since these labels firstly mean very different prices at different tea gardens and secondly, different batches from the same garden often carry very different price tags and are of very different quality.
    The only way I see to solve this problem is to try out a few vendors that carry tea at price levels that you are comfortable with and see what they deliver. Then, build a relationship with these vendors since honest business is always built on trust. And trustworthy vendors won’t try to cheat their customers.

    @ginko: This is of course the crucial question for any small business and especially for business that result from a passion for the product and a drive to share this product with others. As you mention, there’s much more to the cost (for the seller) of a product than the wholesale price. For many countries, the shipping cost for tea and especially teaware is a significant portion of the total cost. And labor, of course, is another big factor – although that’s the one hardest to put a value to.

    In my opinion, there are a few different approaches to pricing and you should choose the one that you feel most comfortable with.
    a) Look at your competition. At what they offer at what price, what selection do they carry, what quality and what target market do they have. Then compare their offerings to yours. If they are similar, and the target audience is similar, stay within their price range.
    b) Look at your cost (total landing cost, i.e. product cost, shipping, taxes, packaging, etc.) and apply a uniform markup on your products. This markup often falls in a fairly broad range, anywhere from 30-150%, with 50-80% probably being the norm.*
    c) Do adaptive pricing based on original wholesale price. Cheaper products can take a larger markup since the perceived final price is still cheap while expensive products couldn’t carry such large markups (i.e. markup your cheaper teas at 100% and your exclusive, very expensive teas at 20%).

    It all depends on your personal approach to your business. I don’t think that option a) reflects your personality or your business, so it’s probably something between b) and c). I personally use a mixture of these. As with any labor of love, you need some products to keep the show on the road, those products which pay the bills. These are products that are relatively affordable and you can sell a lot of. Mark these up a bit more than you’d usually do, since the extra 1$ or 2$ won’t turn a customer away. But – and I think you might be a bit like me in this regard – it’s probably the more exclusive, unique and rare teas that are of real interest to you. These are often very expensive directly from the producer and can’t take much of a markup if you want to sell any of them. You’ll need to subsidize them with the ‘money-maker’ teas.

    I have come across the conundrum with offering very high quality teas at ‘too low’ a price. While my intention was to make a special tea affordable for anyone to try, my pricing turned away these customers that were looking for a high-end tea (which it was) and misjudged the tea as a result of the low price tag. This is a problem I would rather not have to live with, since it feels wrong to me to markup a product beyond my comfort zone only to stand its position in a (price) comparison. But this situation is a result of our past shopping experiences and the the profit-maximizing strategies of many businesses.

    I realize that I haven’t given you that magic number that you asked for, but I think it boils down to what you personally feel comfortable with.

    * For anyone who thinks these numbers are on the high side: most resellers of big brands have markups of 200+%. Ever wondered how they make money with “Everything in store 50% off today” sales?

  • #7480

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    @peter: While the idea sounds good at first sight, I’m not convinced that it will work as you envision. The situation might be different in North America, but here are a few thoughts from my perspective.

    Tea retailers with little experience (and little drive to travel) – those that I imagine this service is aimed at – often don’t have the expertise to judge teas properly and to purchase directly from producers. For them, the (trained and pre-selecting) middleman in the form of wholesale supplier is always a safety net and I’m not sure whether they would take the plunge to suddenly be responsible themselves for selecting the ‘right’ or ‘good’ teas. This is of course not true for all small retailers, but a fair amount of them come from various backgrounds and, if my personal impression from experiences in tea shops is right, most of them don’t know too much about tea.
    On the other side, @xavier is right: the small producers often don’t have either the technology, nor the time and experience, to use such a service.
    That leaves the small wholesaler/ambitious teashop owners in Asia. These are often pretty business -savvy and would definitely use a service like this. But they also do a lot of direct contact to tea retailers via email, so it’s only going to be another potential avenue for them.

    As a retailer, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with suppliers at the source – even without ever having been in the country of production. Ambitious retailers know how to get their teas. And the others, I believe, value the quality ‘control’ that wholesalers offer them.

    This is my own personal impression on the subject and shouldn’t deter you from any plans. I’ve misjudged the American psyche before and might be completely wrong, of course.

  • #7420

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Has it been really more than a year already? I did the proof-reading for the magazine from issue 2 onwards. Time has flown by, I would have sworn that it wasn’t that long ago…

  • #7400

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Thanks for linking to Aaron’s new project, @jackie.
    I don’t know whether our fellow TeaTraders are aware of Aaron’s older project, the online tea magazine The Leaf. There are a quite a few editions now and each one is full of information.

  • #7288

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Hi alicha,
    White peony (or bai mu dan) is a category of WHITE tea, not green tea. And I don’t know where your tea bar (wow, how I dislike this word) owner received her knowledge, but wulong definitely IS oolong tea. It is often used to describe Wuyi oolongs, but mostly by clever marketers who want to exploit the ‘exotic’ sound of the word.

  • #7164

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    An easily accessible description of the different ways to judge water temperature (without a thermometer) is the one in Master Lam Kam Chuen’s very good book The Way of Tea.
    Judging water temperature by sight is called Hsing Pien (“orm distinguising”). Master Chuen calls the “raging torrent” level Old Man Water which should not be used for making tea (but is the most common form of water used in Western Cultures for making tea). Neither should one use crab-eye water for preparing tea.

    The other ways of judging water temperature are “sound distinguishing”, or Sheng Pien. I find that probably the easiest method for most people, since you can’t see the water in most electric kettles. If you experiment for some time by keeping a thermometer in the kettle, you’ll get pretty good at judging the sound of your kettle in regards to temperature.

    The last way of judging water temperature is “air distinguishing” or Chi Pien. This is the hardest to master I find and involves judging the form of steam rising from your kettle. But maybe it’s just me who finds this hard.

  • #7067

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Thanks for the clarification, @jackie. New Zealand is pricey for shipping, unfortunately. But I’m happy to ship combined order, so if you guys want to get together for an order, that’s perfectly fine by me.
    And Rachel – @iheartteas –, I totally understand. This tea is from a pre-release batch and production should commence later this year. I think someone in the US will start stocking this tea. But I doubt that it will be much cheaper. But depending on what the US dollar does, it might get cheaper if the (US) dollar strengthens…

  • #7048

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Funny, how a spam article (the one by sqyasasa) can bring a worthy forum subject back on the radar.
    While actual data about caffeine content of different teas is very rarely published, there used to be a webpage that listed the broadest selection of teas inclusive tested caffeine content. This page isn’t officially available online anymore, but thanks to the marvelous wayback machine, we can still see this valuable information:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20080517094052/http://users.argolink.net/purfarms/komchem/teacaff.htm

    There are some myth-busting results listed on this page, for sure. How about the fact that a GREEN tea (organic clouds of green) had the highest caffeine content of any tea in the test? Interesting…

  • #6948

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Holding my phone? I don’t even own a cell phone, let alone a ‘smart’ phone (whatever that’s supposed to mean) with a camera. No, it’s done by camera and held just in front of me.
    Huang Shan is a pretty insane place. If you get off the main paths, you’re more or less by yourself, but if you approach the famous places, there are literally thousands of people. The steps cut into the mountain are very impressive (and steep). Families go up there with everyone from toddler to grandma.

    I took a bunch more video footage and should really put a clip together. That might be my next project.

  • #6947

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    I think you might see more stuff like this, Jackie. I’m a complete amateur when it comes to video editing, but I’m having fun, which means that I will probably do more of this 😉

  • #6825

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    My recommendation would be to get in touch with your supplier. They have to do testing of their teas (at least they had to last year) and are usually happy to give you information about it if you ask.
    As far as I know, no increased radiation values were found last year in the area around Kyoto, where a majority of the high quality teas are grown (actually, the nearest area where concerning radiation values were found was about 200 km north of there).
    Japan’s government was monitoring (and using mandatory testing) teas, especially those destined for export, and didn’t shy away from destroying large batches of contaminated tea.

    I’ll have to look into the subject again later this year when the new harvest comes in.

    Hope this helps a little.

  • #6434

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Good find @jackie. The topic of “objective criteria” in evaluating tea has been discussed for ages and so far, the only real result is that there aren’t any. Sure, we can discuss that a certain grade of tea must fulfill certain criteria like shape and size, but when it comes to taste, it’s all subjective. And that’s a good thing if you ask me. It definitely requires tea merchants to develop their senses if they want to offer ‘good’ tea.
    Power to the broad range of personal preferences. We’re all individuals and don’t really need a ‘standardized’ taste, do we?

  • #6317

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    @jackie sums it up really well and most of the previous comments are correct: Hei Cha is a broad category of Chinese tea, equivalent to oolong or green tea. Pu-erh is a member of the Hei Cha category. Other popular teas in this category include the mentioned Fu Cha and Hunan Dark Tea.
    All Hei Cha is post-fermented and most are compressed into different shapes.

    But addressing the original issue: to describe Fu Cha as distinctly different from pu-erh isn’t just marketing hype. Try it and you will discover that it is indeed very different from pu-erh (although maybe not as different as white tea is from black tea). Fu Cha contains a beneficial fungus called Eurotium Cristatum (or Golden Flower) which gives it a unique flavor and aroma. Fu Cha is very popular in China and has been the subject of various medical studies, mainly related to its function to inhibit blood sugar and cholesterol.
    About a year ago, I wrote a fairly exhaustive blog post about Fu Cha.

  • #6169

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Sniffing boxes & loose leaves to see and touch are not without problems. You have to change them VERY often to actually maintain a smell to them.
    In almost all of the places that I’ve been to that had this option (the only notable exception were tea stalls in China, where the turnover is so much higher), I would have never bought tea according to what I smelled – simply because it never did smell. You can have a look at leaf uniformity and grade, but smell is usually gone.
    And you’d be amazed by how few people actually WANT to smell the tea. I’m always happy to to have people smell the leaves when they ask; but they rarely do. And even when I do have some fresh leaves on display (at an expo, for example), very few people actually get into them.

  • #6003

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    William,
    these impressions are partially correct, but don’t hold for all oolongs. The two styles for oolongs are balled (or rolled, like Tie Guan Yin) and strip-shaped (like dancongs or Wuyi Yancha). Both types are good for many, many infusions in general. A decent Da Hong Pao can give you anywhere between 8 and 15 infusions, while a dancong usually doesn’t go quite as far. Same with balled oolongs. Da Hong Pao has a fairly high oxidation level, depending on processing method.
    “Choice Formosa oolong” usually describes some form or Bai Hao oolong from Taiwan. These Oriental Beauty oolongs are much more akin to Darjeeling “black” teas than to other oolongs. My experience with Bai Hao oolongs is that the most satisfying flavours come out in the first 2-3 infusions.
    If you want to prepare these teas with mutiple infusions (i.e. more than 3), use MUCH more leaf than you’d usually do and do VERY SHORT infusions (i.e. a few seconds). That should keep you going for a while.
    Of course, quality is also a major factor in this issue…

  • #5999

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    I forgot to mention, the Thurbo from Lochan Tea that was linked to in the other thread is a pretty solid, nice tea as well.

  • #5997

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    This year’s first flush Darjeeling has been around for a few months now and the second flush harvest is currently being shipped to retailers around the world.
    To make this post less lonely, I’ll share some of my impressions. I’ve tried about 20 or so different teas from this year’s first flush, ranging from very high to medium quality. The very high quality teas had some good teas, although not quite as good as in some years. What I found interesting was that most of the medium high to average teas didn’t show as much difference as I’m used to. Some notable exceptions are Singbulli, which produced a really nice SFTGFOP and Soureni Estates, both of which I decided to stock. Other nice teas I tried were from Puttabong (and long time favorite of mine) and Jungpana Estates. I’ve written about the Singbulli and Soureni on my blog if you want to have a look.
    This year’s Darjeeling first flushes had quite a problem to be distributed, which could explain the lack of widely publicized reviews. The problem was an export embargo on Darjeeling teas that was put into place by a labour union at the end of February and was only lifted at the end of March. The union demanded an increase of minimum wage for tea workers of roughly 150% and used the embargo to demonstrate its power. The union lifted its embargo after the Darjeeling Tea Association agreed to raise the minimum daily wage to 90 Rupees (from 67 rupees previously).

  • #5976

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Thanks for the pointer, Aaron. I didn’t see the small edit link originally, but just found it. I’ve removed all formal evidence now 😉
    More fun and games, right? Well, I’ll have another cup of Darjeeling on that one (it’s morning over here right now, the perfect time of day for these teas).

  • #5974

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Jackie,
    sorry, I didn’t mean to be spamming but just give Aaron (and possibly you) some idea for teas to trade with. As I said, I’ll list some teas in the marketplace soon, but since I’m hard-pressed for time right now, I’m not sure how long this will take me. Since I mentioned an ‘arrangement’ (with which I had a swap in mind), I wanted to give Aaron some ideas about possible teas.
    But your point is taken and I’ll be more considerate with my comments in the future.

  • #5972

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    Aaron,
    let’s arrange something, then. We could do a Darjeeling-for-Gyokuru tea swap if you like or alternatively, you could wait until I’ll list some of our teas in the marketplace (I’ll have to get around that sometime soon!).
    Currently waiting for the arrival of some second flush Darjeelings and the Arya Ruby from the first flush harvest.
    Jo

  • #5967

    yaya
    Participant
    @yaya

    My recommendation would be to either get in touch directly with Vivek Lochan (he’s a nice guy and I’m sure he’ll be helpful sorting something out) or visit their website at http://www.lochantea.com
    Alternatively, I might be able to arrange something nice for you guys 😉

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yaya

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@yaya

active 3 years, 5 months ago