Tuesday, May 16, 2017
White2Tea & The Post Truth Era of Puerh
Before I dropped off the radar you could count the number of Western puerh vendors on two hands. On my return to puerh buying, there are so many more out there. To me this is a good thing but a little overwhelming at first. To be perfectly honest, I have mainly purchased all of my puerh either in person in Korea or on Taobao. Essence of Tea and Yunnan Sourcing might be the only exceptions.
Even old, reliable sites like the classic red and gold Yunnan Sourcing website have recently made major changes (saw that one turn over recently). Other sites like Puerhshop have really slowed down as well. Change happens and more selection and competition is always welcome.
I’ve been trying to check out all the new vendors out there. This article by James of TeaDB has really helped me out. The new puerh vendors out there that I am finding the most interesting are two American puerh vendors Crimson Lotus Tea and White2Tea. They are really taking the puerh market in different directions, no doubt, in response to past issues with buying puerh in the West.
I think Crimson Lotus is brilliant for marketing to and branding their puerh to the science fiction niche. I have also noticed that many many people who drink puerh also enjoy science fiction- most of my puerh drinking buddies in Victoria and Korea fall into this category, I think. Overall, it’s an interesting concept but, as always, it comes down to how good their tea is… puerh can’t lie no matter what planet it’s from!
It sounds like White2Tea is really shaking up the puerh tea world… Tea with no region, no explanation, no story, no background, no pictures of farmers, no context what so ever. All these values line up squarely with my own tea philosophy- “A blog that is the tea’s”. However philosophy and reality often don’t align and as I begin my search for puerh once again I find myself looking for regions, mountains, factories, producers, and vendors that I know and that have a certain characteristic, quality, profile, tack record and “house taste”.
With the White2Tea’s decision to go in this direction basically you have to either trust the brand, trust the curator TwoDog (Paul), trust others who have tried the tea and recommend it, or sample all the tea yourself and decide for yourself. I find lots of problems with this system.
I find it eerily familiar that TwoDog has basically based his marketing of Puerh on a similar strategy as Donald Trump… has anyone else noticed this?
Firstly, he has picked up on the discontent/ dissatisfaction of many Western puerh drinkers. Secondly, he has discredited the old system of selling puerh as basically dishonest. Thirdly, he insists that everything that is claimed about the origin of puerh or even a singular quality of certain areas is a lie. Forth, he is thriving off of the idea that “controversy is good for business”. Fifth, and most importantly, he offers a solution to the problem- just simply trust his puerh. I guess we really are living in the Post-Truth Era of puerh!
I think the only fair way to assess puerh in this Post-Truth Era would be to sample puerh from all vendors, factories, and areas blindly. Then decide on purchase based on how much the tea was valued in the blind testing verses the actual price. The problem is that that no one would have the time and energy and money for that type of extensive sampling. So quite naturally we try to narrow it down to certain brands, areas, factories, and vendors from either past experiences, others recommendations, or from simply brand identification.
With all this being said, I am most compelled to try White2Tea’s young puerh over any other vendor … so I guess all this smart marketing works… I kind of feel like I want to support his vision for tea on its own merits.. I guess even if you identify the marketing strategy at hand that doesn’t always make you immune to its effects…
If we know only one thing to be true it is this- that old MattCha was probably GongFuing to Drake long before Paul (TwoDog) even knew who he was.