Friday, January 30, 2015

The Tea Market Series (In China) – Article 3 Part 2/2

The Misrepresentation of Age in Puerh Tea - Old Tricks Become More Refined
The misrepresentation of age for puerh tea is a common occurrence. It is a scam initiated by dishonest merchants and spread by those who are unawares. The lack of information and labeling on older teas (especially individual teacakes) from pre 2005 productions makes it difficult for consumers to easily identify the real age of tea. All too frequently merchants are happy to come in and make up those numbers to their advantage by inflating the age of the tea.

During the first wave of the puerh boom in the early 2000s many inexperienced and naïve Chinese buyers came on to the scene. The Chinese people were attracted by the national euphoria that surrounded puerh tea. Puerh was widely promoted as a national heritage and often presented with connotations as being the best Chinese tea. Many people who had previously no interest in puerh tea became caught up in the hype and bought blindly. There was such little knowledge on the part of buyers that dishonest merchants could blatantly pass off a newly produced ripe puerh tea as a precious 30 year old aged raw tea. This simple scam worked amazingly well for a number of years such was the lack of knowledge amongst new buyers during those early years.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2003 Chienyun Red Dayi Ripe (Menghai Tea Factory) - NA

The Menghai Tea Factory is the standard bearer for ripe puerh tea. Menghai is one of two factories that pioneered the production of ripe puerh and first introduced the tea to the market in the early 1970s. Over the decades Menghai Tea Factory have established a reputation for producing reliable to exceptional aged vintages of quality ripe puerh. Since the start of their operations Menghai remains the biggest and most reputable factory in China and internationally for ripe puerh tea.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Tea Market Series (In China) – Article 3 Part1/2

Tricks of the Trade 
Tea leaves harvested from ancient trees are multiple times more valuable than those picked from modern plantations. The price for the tea leaves are then further elevated based on which famous region they are sourced, Lao Banzhang and Yiwu make up some of the most in demand locations. Such teas command high prices and are attractive to scammers as they can bring in a lot of profits. It is this reason you will find a multitude of fake and fraudulent teas with associations of being big tree material and/or from Lao Banzhang or Yiwu.

When you visit China’s tea market it is important to realize that for a famous regional puerh tea like Lao Banzhang* the estimated annual spring production is 10 tons but roughly 5000 tons of tea is sold in China’s tea market under this description. Whether most of the tea sold is fake and/or heavily blended with cheaper raw materials from elsewhere this is a business practice that is rife throughout China. Big profits are made this way by both dishonest merchants and tea producers who apply this strategy to all teas that command a meaningful enough price.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2003 Purple Dayi (Menghai Tea Factory)

The 2003 Purple Dayi is one of a series of reproductions from 2001 to 2004 by Menghai Tea Factory to replicate the iconic 1996 Purple Dayi. The tea is old style Menghai production consisting of plantation raw material that is brutal in character. The tea is made for long term aging. The estimated time for storage is perhaps revealed by a story that tells of a tea farmer who produces puerh tea for his grandchildren to enjoy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2001 Simplified Character Cloud (Menghai Tea Factory)

The 2001 Simplified Character Cloud is a special production from the Menghai Tea Factory. It is a tea that appeals to both collectors and investors due to its quality and popularity (from being referenced in tea publications and discussed in tea forums). Personally I find the quality of the tea to be good and superior to Menghai’s regular productions. That said it is not a tea to be enjoyed now as its maturity is likely to be decades away.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Tea Market Series (In China) – Article 2

The Reality of China’s Tea Market – A Big Business Perspective
What does the Chinese Tea Market and all these businesses have in common? It is maximizing profits. The process and behind the scenes operation isn't always pretty but in summary it is buy low and sell high.

The Chinese shopkeepers, especially the middle age aunties and uncles with pleasant and friendly smiles are some of the most able business people I have come across when it comes to their ability to buy low and sell high or to simply pass on a dud to an unsuspecting customer. These people have Wall Street and Big Corporation genes that would make the top executives in those industries proud. Forget the market price, if you forget, they will also gladly forget. The asking price changes often and more so as the customer change. It is business but also a bit of a game.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Note on Menghai Tea Factory

In the following weeks I will be posting a number of teas from the Menghai Tea Factory. Before I begin with the teas I feel it is important that I provide a brief introduction on this famous tea factory.