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How to sample/buy/collect teas in a wise way?

Back in the early days (2015?) often I got super excited and carried away when I saw an interesting tea somewhere on the web and bought a cake or two straight away. I told myself a story that I must get the tea before it runs out or gets much more expensive or something. Usually this story was not accurate which caused waste of money and unnecessary accumulation.

At some point I figured out I should take it easy and buy only a sample first and start getting to know the tea calmly. If that tea runs out from the seller or gets more expensive in the meantime it will not be a catastrophe. There will be other good opportunities in the future since sellers and wholesalers are constantly looking for new teas. And it’s not like pu’er production will stop suddenly. Or if it does stop then you can start hoarding with good conscience. In the meantime I should get to know the tea calmly and properly before buying a big amount of it.

Downsides of getting in a pu’er craze (in a nutshell):
You might accumulate unnecessary objects at home
Spending unnecessary money
Adding complexity in your life (how to get rid of them?)

There are many ways to live life and spend hard earned money. I like to do it in a way that has a small risk of wasting money and accumulating non essential stuff. You can’t remove risk completely but you can mitigate it. This is what’s this post is about.

First step

Buy only a small sample (15-30g) first when you encounter an interesting tea!
Don’t buy a cake. Yes you read right. Not even from me. Don’t buy a whole cake without sampling it first. If that’s not possible for some reason weigh your decision carefully.

Second step

Buy only a cake or slightly bigger amount (not two cakes or a tong!).
Individual teas are like people. It takes time to get to know them. When you have the tea in different ways, occasions and states of your mind & body you start to understand better what are the particular tea’s character and effects.

If you still think the tea is very good after drinking a cake or half it’s time to move forward.

Third step

Go crazy! Now it’s time to hoard the best candidates if you feel like it!
At this point you can be quite sure what you are getting yourself into. So you can get a few cakes or tongs. If you went through the first and second step properly it’s hard to make a “bad” purchase at this point.

Ways to skip steps

1.You trust the seller IMMENSELY.
In other words your guess (it’s always a guess more or less when buying stuff online) about what you are getting and how are you getting are very rarely or never wrong in a big way.

Let’s say you have bought tea from a particular seller for many years and know when they will describe a tea in a specific way you will get a specific thing. In this situation your guess what you will get from the seller’s description is very accurate (most of the time). From public online tea shops I have this kind of trust only in the Essence Of Tea.

2. You have a good and easy way to get rid of the excess teas.
Maybe you have a friend who will gladly accept your excess teas? I haven’t found a good way so far. Let me know if you have good ideas! 🙂 My best attempt so far was the tea flea market. I had some extra tea which I had bought for about 200 euros. I got maybe 60 euros from them and the rest I gave away for free. I’m quite happy how it turned out. I’m not sad about “losing” that money because that’s the price of finding the gems out there.

-Tertti

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