Thursday, January 13, 2022

“The Code”: Don’t Break the Vendor’s Code…

The recent uproar in the comment section of this recent post brought to light something that is implied but never explicitly stated…. “The code” or the agreed upon code of conduct between Western puerh vendors.  Although, I have never seen or heard it stated outright, I’ve heard of vendors complain of digressions. As far as I understand, and I am on the outside here, this is “the code”…

1-      Never Ask a Vendor Their Sources- This is probably the #1 complaint amongst vendors and probably the worst transgression.  If you are thinking about starting your own business don’t even hint about it!  Likely all Western facing vendors have been approached by someone in the past who attempts to sound innocent enough but then the next thing they know that innocent inquirer has started selling tea!  This is also the single biggest slap in the face to a vendor.


2-      Don’t Sell The Same Puerh- Although it is acceptable to sell a few of the same cakes as other Western facing puerh vendors, I have noticed that generally Western facing puerh vendors tend not to sell more than a few cakes that are the same.  Any more than a few and the code is broken.  The cakes that are sold on multiple sites are usually very common factory cakes and, out of courtesy are usually offering different storage.


3-      Don’t Overtly Criticize/ Critique Other Vendors- The roll of the puerh vendor is to sell puerh, it is the roll of the buyer and customer to criticize and critique.  This is especially true if the criticism and critique is beyond the tea itself and extends to the business, people running the business, sources, and other peripheral aspects.  It’s one thing to critique a tea and another to critique a competitor.  The criticism of another vendor should primarily and indirectly come from the high standard which they themselves run their business and choose their teas to sell. Many vendors have or have had blogs where they review other tea.  I think this is acceptable in so much that it is balanced and fair which most seem to be.  I always like to see when vendors comment, on this blog or the others I read.


4-      Be Respectful & Hold Yourself to a Higher Standard- It is kind of a double standard or unfair standard, but puerh vendors must hold themselves to a higher standard compared to us tea buyers (and even lowlier tea bloggers… hahaha) when discussing tea and other vendors.  We hold you in the highest regard and it’s an honor for us to be able to buy the tea you have sourced for us.  We only expect the best you can give, nothing less.



Paolo said...

I think there's something even more glaring missing from the "unspoken code":

5) "Do not disclose sources and margins to the public, and do not sell the same tea significantly at a lesser cost of other vendors or you are indirectly talking about their margins"

6) "Be part of the puerh old boys club or talk in the same way.
Ideally build up "credibility" with a blog or friendship with someone "famous" before selling anything that requires any trust (dayi, old loose, "gushu"... you may not sell these unless a recognised online authority has verified you able to do that). Talk about tea in the same way as people did 5-10 years ago on various blogs, that's how you can be recognised as having expertise"

I think also this code of conduct is applied mostly for a quite niche sector of vendors, ones interacting with the online community. I doubt KTM would know or care, and a random tea house selling some puerh online wouldn't either.


But I do wonder what you make of this code? In some parts you seem to endorse it, in some parts it seems you just acknowledge it's an unspoken expectation?


WJL said...

Going to be really blunt here.

The reason why there's a lot of people have a lot of issues with what you're doing is that you seem incapable of taking criticism. I've seen you on the Discord when you first joined and the first thing you started doing was trying to figure out where people and vendors were sourcing their teas, and it was a pretty disappointing thing when people found out that you actually sold tea on the side.

People don't like it when their sources end up being flipped for Commercial purposes. At least for me, a lot of my sources give me discounts with the impression I'm not going to make it available for other people. Hitting the source multiple times from multiple people also raises the prices on those teas too.

But in the name of your pursuit of enlightenment, you are extremely blunt and frankly, arrogant in the way that you're approaching all of this. Even before making friends and forming connections, you're just asking about "where can I buy this tea?". No wonder people looked at you in disgust, and no wonder you had to post such a weird propaganda article that I would expect from some 13 year old being offended. Is this the enlightenment you speak of?

Look back on yourself. Even before I get to your tea tasting abilities (which seem like extremely stereotypical new ageish pseudobabble than actually drinking tea), you definitely need a lot of self reflecting to do. I'm glad that you're serious about seeking enlightenment and gaining spiritual depth, and I hope that that desire makes you a better person and you're able to look back on this entire debacle and realize all the weird things you did and how defensive you are.

Because currently, in your pursuit of enlightenment, your approach is rather than change yourself, you are so focused on changing how others perceive you. No wonder you're so worked up about all of this. It's like a tea producer focusing on how to market their tea better rather than making better tea. In the long run, people will find out and discover who you are, and despite all your attempts to deceive, it's not very hard to see right past you, there's been crazier people in the tea scene.

Best of luck and I hope you are able to take this as an opportunity to grow as a person, and I hope that helps you in your pursuit of tea and enlightenment.

Anonymous said...
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teac said...

There is huge inconsistency at your claim to bringing lower prices for teas when you’re still carrying that 2003 Wangong cake whilst hiding its wrapper on your site. It’s time to acknowledge you might’ve been taken for a ride by your source. Single village Wangong tea was simply not a thing back then, and even if it were, it wouldn’t be priced like that today. It basically kills any credibility you have, both in terms of being on some sort of moral high horse and also in terms of being an objective tea drinker able to evaluate teas properly.

You really can't simply dismiss the alternate sources (Taobao/TW vendors) as fakes. But readers can decide for themselves. Note that quite a few experienced players in the puer market, both drinkers and sellers, have expressed skepticism. I wouldn't dismiss these as merely personal vendettas either.

For those curious, google: 2003年弯弓百年大树普洱茶生茶张毅监制私人 and compare against:

Anonymous said...

This was the cake that Paolo defended actively on Facebook as being completely genuine and suggested that the cake was real and that the identical looking cakes on Taobao were fake, or at the very least a different batch. Paolo now suggests that the "depth" of the neifei in the cake on Taobao is too shallow to be real - as if cake fakers concede the falseness of their cakes by putting the neifei outside and not inside.

So when the Wangong cake was posted and suggested as fake, we went on an adventure of: it's not fake, the Taobaos are fake, the Taobaos may be other batches, the neifei on Paolo's cake are deeper thus more real, the wrapper is a different shade of white, and now, "it's just good tea."

The Facebook thread on the constantly mutating defenses of the Taobao cake is an interesting read.

Matt said...


7) be a straight cis gender male of Western European decent and be married to woman of mainland China decent… hahaha this was a common joke of the famous Hobbes….

I believe King Tea Mall is basically a Chinese vendor selling to Westerners and is set up in a typical Chinese puerh vendor sort of way and style.

The code is just my observation, it’s between you guys, I am primarily am concerned about the tea itself.


Anonymous said...

Hey Matt. I’m curious why WJL’s comment calling out Paolo for being “arrogant,” “propagandist,” and questioning his level of “enlightenment” is allowed as a comment but my previous comment in the 03 TQH thread calling out Marco for being some of the same things wasn’t allowed. Is it just the way I said it, perhaps not being as great of a writer, or something else? This seems more like an area where your friends have free reign to say what they want rather than a legitimate comments section.

Carlos Hopontopofus said...
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