Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Be cautious in the puerh world, says Teaparker

Teaparker has posted not one, but two articles on his blog to urge consumers to beware of the common traps in the puerh business:
1. Puerh leaves from outside areas are shipped to the 6 famous mountains of Xishuangbanna and resold by the local tea farmers. Being on site is no guarantee against this fraud. The situation is most serious in YiWu, currently the most sought after location.

2. Plantation puerh is sold as wild puerh, or is mixed with wild leaves. Only a few experts are able to recognize this after the leaves have been pressed as cakes or bricks.

3. Wrapping paper is easy to fake, and there is a wrapping industry in Yunnan that is capable of producing any old and famous wrapper.

4. Puerh seems to be a good investment as its value continually rises over time. This has prompted many big merchants to invest in young puerh, which created a shortage and rising prices. So far, this frenzy is feeding on itself. How high the puerh prices can rise also depends on the intrinsic quality of the tea itself. Worthless young teas will become, guess what, worthless old teas!

In the second article, Teparker continues with these recommendations:
1. In Taiwan, celebrities have became puerh fans. They may be good in their respective fields, but that doesn't make them puerh experts. Don't fall for tea that is advertised as being drunk by a celebrity.

2. If you want to buy, then taste first. If you can't taste, then don't buy. (Note: This may be practical with a store, but online it's harder to implement. Nevertheless, I always give samples of teas you're interested in with the first order, so that you can taste before committing a big amount of money.)

3. Older is not always better. A good young tea quality and proper storage are necessary to improve puerh over the years.

4. Each tea has it's story. Listen carefully, but remember that you are buying the tea and not the story. Some stories will try to impress you with mythical dates (cultural revolution) and you'll have to be even more careful.

6 comments:

Jeancarmet said...

Does it mean that purchasing thru the web (Yunnan Sourcing or Hou De asian for samples) should be avoided at all prices for recent (or older)Pu-Erh ?

Lionel said...

j'ai acheté des pu er sur le net, que j'ai fait expertiser par Mme Tseng..."thé ne correspondant pas à l'emballage, feuilles trop grandes habituellement non utilisées pour un pu er, thé vieilli en conditions humides..." telles furent quelques exemples de ses conclusions...donc effectivement la méfiance doit être de mise...

Jeancarmet said...

Et ils n'étaient pas bons à la dégustation Lionel ?

Stephane said...

Jeancarmet,
The same caution applies on the net as in the Chinese tea shop. The additional twist is that you should only deal with trustworthy people (like me or the 2 sources you mention). Otherwise, you may get a sample that is better than the tea that will be later shipped to you (this fraud actually also happens in tea shops in tourist areas). But while it may make sense to taste (or at least look and smell) any tea before you buy it in a tea shop, it may not be practical to do so with all the teas on the net. Only do this if the amount of money or quantity involved is big enough. I mean, don't ask for a 5 or 10 gram sample is all you want to buy is 50 gram.
Another good way is to try with a small order first.

Also, thanks to the Net it's possible to come in contact with people who share the same interest in tea. A good way to get samples is to make exchanges with other people. But something tell me you're familiar with it ;)
This gives me an idea that I should have a page to let people contact each other in order to exchange samples from my teas.

Lionel,
Je recommande de faire une ou plusieurs dégustations test en bol (comme je l'expliquais il n'y a pas trop longtemps). Tu prends le nouveau thé que tu viens de recevoir et tu le compares à un assez proche que tu considères comme référence. Cette dégustation parallèle devrait être suffisante pour te dire lequel tu préfères.

Demander l'avis à un fournisseur concurrent débouche forcément sur une analyse surtout critique. C'est complètement naturel. Si tu achètes un portable de la marque X, tu ne t'attends pas que le vendeur de la marque Y te dise toutes les fonctions qu'on ne trouve que chez X. Il te dira avant tout ce que tu as raté en n'achetant pas son portable.

Et comme les puerhs parfaits sont rares, il y a toujours quelque chose à critiquer.

Jeancarmet said...

Voilà des commentaires plein de bon sens et constructifs ! A la bonne heure.

lionel said...

Commentaires de bon sens en effet Stéphane.
Jeancarmet : l'un des 2 pu er testés par Mme Tseng n'était pas facile à maîtriser, rapidement amer et très fort presque inbuvable(celui avec séchage en conditions trop humides selon elle). L'autre je l'aime beaucoup (une galette 2005 achetée chez yunnan sourcing), alors que Mme Tseng le trouve agressif en gorge...?
Mais il est vrai que l'on est tenté de trop se fier aux avis d'experts...C'est vrai Stéphane que les avis de Mme Tseng sont toujours critiques vis à vis des thés que je lui soumets, mais elle explique tout cela bien, et a aussi une démarche pédagogique d'argumentation...