Sunday, November 26, 2023

Black Friday Puerh Purchases: The Hunter and the Hunted

 I find the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday marketing of Western facing puerh vendors rather interesting.  I had written about it for a few years in a row a few years back.  The last time I really paid attention to Black Friday puerh sales was probably the last time I actually purchased something from Black Friday which I believe was a cake of 2020 Tea Encounter Guafengzhai Chaping Gushu.  The real reason is for the lack of attention is that I have actually purchased less puerh (good job!) and almost no fresh puerh over the last two years.  The exception being this interesting 2023 Tea Encounter DuoYiShu there is only 2 cakes left, and it’s even on sale now and I can’t believe this is not sold out yet… for those interested in fresh puerh Black Friday Cyber Monday sales!

Another reason I’ve not paid too much attention to Black Friday puerh sales is because the vendors I purchase the most from don’t even have Black Friday /Cyber Monday sales!  I mentioned that TeasWeLike is my hands down favourite purerh vendor - they don’t entertain sales at all and are pretty straightforward in their marketing for which I put 100% trust in them.  

It might be surprising to some that has increasingly and incrementally gained my trust since re-launching over two years.  I now openly consider them my second favourite puerh vendor.  It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering it’s been the vendor I have frequented the second most in the past two years.  Just like I’ve said before I have not tried a puerh from them that I have not enjoyed on some level- I have never received a bad puerh from them, they have all been good.  In fact, quite the opposite,  some of the best cakes I own have come from  When I purchased these favourite puerh cakes years ago they were just languishing on his poor site for weeks.  Paolo owner of had to build some trust and he has.

A few years ago, right away, there were a few things I really liked about  The first is that it shook up the English facing puerh market and offered some aggressive competition (mainly to TeasWeLike).  Competition is usually a good thing and I think has proven this by now.  Another cool thing I liked about is that they were bringing in single acquired tongs from collectors and selling them off by the cake, quarter cake, 25g and 7g samples.  The other vendors out there are really not focused on hunting down puerh on such a small scale for market due to a variety of factors.  Over the last few years Paolo has forged a closer relationship with some of these collectors.  One such collector, I have referred to him here on the blog as “old man” has particularly satisfying puerh storage conditions with his hot dry Taiwanese stored puerh.  As such I have acquired a decent amount of puerh from said “Old Man”.  

As part of a promotion this week, is offering a two tier buy-in to be the first to purchase some limited supplies of cakes that won’t be immediately offered to the public.  It’s marketed as TCE2 and as the site states:

My first reaction to this whole thing is that it really reeks of marketing.  I despise the idea that access is only offered to those with money to get in the gate.  It goes against the competitive argument for  But they do have a point because old man storage 2004 ChenYuan Son Pin Hao sat on the site for weeks so did the rare 2003 ChenYuan Hao Yibang now some things sell out really fast these days.  But aren’t I one of Paolo’s most loyal customers???!

There is one cake (and people who have been into puerh for a long time will know it) it’s that 2006 Chen-He Guang Tang Yiwu Chawang.  It hooked me… but wait I’m not buying that stupid membership selling out my soul thing… then Paolo tells me the three cakes in the hunter tier are all from no other than old man’s storage…. I picked up some of that famous 2006 Chen-He Guang Tang Yiwu Chawang and the 2014 ChengShunHao Xigui… (looks like there is still one left) … I guess the hunter has become the hunted? Hahahaha



Ignoramus said...

I was confused about this though, Paolo's description is wordy and repetitive yet still unclear. Do you only get access to these teas through the hunter pre-buy or is it that you just get early access? I'm curious about what the unlisted teas end up being, the guaranteed ones aren't enough to make me buy-in.

Matt said...


I agree it’s not very clear so I had to send Paolo an email before committing to it. If you were not interested in that first release, Why would you buy-in. Also can you buy-in at a later release?

Nice to hear from you again.


Mr Peter said...

Although the review is now a little dated it's less than positive.

Mr Peter said...

Sorry I've linked to the 2009 cake. The review of the 06 is harsh.

Matt said...

Mr. Peter,

It’s interesting because I read that same article, and I actually remember reading it when it was first posted, and I think this is the reason why I want to hit this one pretty hard .

I think reader Thomas (Tuo Cha Tea) will have greater insights on this one …


Peter said...

Eh? He didn't like the tea at all and thought it was overpriced hype.

Matt said...


It really needs to be taken into context at what was happening at that time. I probably would have maybe given the tea a similar review. This is one of the reasons I’m so curious about this one. In a way it’s historical in the West because you get all these super famous puerh people/ bloggers trying to decipher something that no one really has much experience with- Phil Sheng, Vlad, Thomas (Tou Cha Tea), Hobbes (The Half-Dipper), Marshal’N.

Here we have, at the time, one of the first exposures to 1- very fresh Gushu puerh 2- Autumnal production 3- cleverly marketed and at the time crazy expensive Boutique Branding 4- a new an exciting area called Gua Feng Zhi.

You can see that the most old school being Marshal’N and Hobbes are resissting it strongly in favour of stronger character…


Matt said...

Or, perhaps, if you want to interpret it another way… they are resisting the new school movement and this new emerging puerh culture of the new school- cleverly celebrity marketed, crazy expensive, boutique branded, ethereal type Gushu puerh. ..