Friday, January 10, 2020
Why All Western Vendors Press Both Good and Not As Good Puerh
It occurred to me sometime in the last few years that all Western puerh vendors press both very good and not as good puerh. None are exempt from this evaluation.
There has always been a bit of a debate about which vendor is the best- that is really up to your personal tastes and the way you identify with their marketing and branding more than whether their puerh is actually better. Each brand has its own house style of puerh as well so part of the brand popularity is how you value their overall typical style. In my experience, all Western vendors will press some puerh that seems a bit overpriced for what you experience and some that seem to be priced way under than what they should be. I suppose you could argue that some vendors offer more value and others less but I don’t think you can say that one vendor’s puerhs are better than all of another vendor’s puerhs. Of the popular vendors I frequent (Yunnan Sourcing, white2tea, Chawangshop, The Essence of Tea, Tea Encounter, Tea Urchin) none press undrinkable puerh, and trust me there is a lot of that out there in the world. They at least meet a certain standard and thankfully shield us from some of the worst. But no one vendor consistently presses puerh that is always, without fail, a slam dunk. Why is that?
I think this is because puerh vendors price their puerh at the prices they pay for the raw material (the maocha), the production, warehousing, and just overall cost of the business. They apply their mark up and that is that. The price they will sell the tea is decided way before they even press the cakes maybe even before they taste that year’s harvest. If they book a certain garden a year before they probably already have an idea of how much the puerh will sell for. If they go in search of maocha that has already been picked then the one selling it already knows how good the end product is and can base their selling price more on quality. The price our Western vendors sell their puerh for is likely not based on the perceived value of how good the final product tastes rather its based more on how much they paid to book a certain garden or how much the purchased the maocha for.
I think the biggest factor for the variance in quality is that nature, not anything that can be accurately predicted by humans, dictates how a single production will turn out in the end. I stated last post that puerh is one of the most sensitive teas to changes in weather and that it is never the same year after year because of these changes. Of course, our beloved and hardworking puerh vendors do all they can to ensure the best product in the end but nature is the final decider.
When we experience puerh we are truly experiencing something beyond the reach and control of humankind, beyond the control of those who picked, processed, marketed and branded it. When we drink puerh we are imbibing nature’s gift.