Thursday, January 04, 2018

Tea photography clues to select an online tea seller

Spring 2017 High Mountain Oolong from Bi Lu Xi 
Obviously, tea photography is very important for online tea selling, since customers can only see the products on their screen. Good pictures of the dry leaves, of the brew and of the open leaves also provide a lot of information about what the customer is looking for in terms of oxidation level, size of the leaves (linked to elevation for Oolong), the shape of the leaves (ie the cultivar)...

When I opened my online tea boutique a few years ago, I found out it's actually more tricky to make consistent nice pictures of tea leaves, brews and open leaves than beautiful pictures of a Chaxi like in this article. However, I keep trying my best and each tea has its own set of pictures for the dry leaves, the brew and the open leaves. They are never the same, because none of these teas are the same.
I've noticed that not all online tea boutiques work that way. Several boutiques are using the very same picture for different teas. I'm not going to name names (the list might become very long!) But I find it interesting to spot this kind of problem if you're potential customer planning to make a tea purchase. If you see the same picture for 2 different teas, this means that you're not sure anymore to which tea the pictures actually refer to. And if this vendor is willing to recycle his pictures for different teas, how do you know that any of his pictures are actually of the tea he's selling? Maybe they are all from previous seasons? Since pictures are the most important thing you can use to judge a tea online, isn't it a major breach of trust to use wrong pictures?
So, a quick observation can help you to spot if there are duplicate pictures for different teas on a tea boutique. This will help you discard lots of careless merchants.

How else can pictures on a boutique or a blog help you select a good tea provider? Are they inspiring? Do they show a deep interest in tea? Do they also show a good understanding on how each type of tea is best brewed? For instance, for this high mountain Oolong from Bi Lu Xi (near Da Yu Ling), I'm using light celadon singing cups, a zhuni teapot and a blue flower chabu to emphasize the freshness of this very high mountain spring Oolong. The same Chaxi wouldn't match a shu puerh or a fully oxidized tea for reasons that should be obvious to regular readers of my blog.

I hope you'll find this advice helpful!

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