With so many tea companies popping up nowadays, I bet you are wondering how to pick who to get your tea from. We encourage you to keep sampling teas and asking questions. In effort to answer one question, we have put together a helpful list below.
1. Same Tea but sold under many different names.
In shops across the west, there are hundreds if not thousands of different teas available. However, unbeknownst to many consumers, many of these teas are in fact the same tea. There are only a few large Puer wholesalers and it’s very likely that a shop that is selling a particular tea with their logo on it and another shop across the country selling a tea with their logo on is, in fact, the same tea. Why is this bad or why does it matter? Without standardization much is lost. We may be paying more for a tea that is worth less and/or being sold a tea that is stripped of its true information. We lose the connections and we lose its purity.
2. When purchasing tea from a major distributor there is no relationship and there is no story.
One ends up purchasing from a large business as opposed to a family or a village. You’re not supporting the farmers, you are not supporting the producers, you’re supporting a group of middleman or a company involved in major business without full transparency. Why does this matter? When less money is given to those producing our teas, the producers give less care to our teas being produced, sometimes because of economical reasons. There are many wholesalers who fly to Kunming, the Capitol of Yunnan, and simply connect with Chinese wholesalers who are dealing with hundreds, or thousands, of different teas/mountains/producers, then selecting a few of their teas, paying the duty, paying the tax, shaking hands with men who likely have never lived a day on the tea farm, then flying back to their country. Is this wrong or is this bad business? No, but you are losing a very important piece of the puzzle of tea. Of course, many businesses are in fact ran this way. However, tea is a commodity unlike any other. It is a plant that gives us life; it is a tree that gives us so much and has for thousands of years. It is an elixir that is poured for strangers, for lovers, for friends.
In so many cultures of the Far East, there is no written language. In these cultures all they have is the spoken language and all they have is their story. Once we get involved with major business, we lose their story. Some teas are so poor that all they have going for them is a decent taste. Tea is capable of so much more than just taste. Sit with a fantastic tea that carries a culture and a history and a story, and something new will come to your teacup.
3. When we lose sight of where our teas are coming from, there is no longer any accountability.
When a Tea is given a cute name instead of the actual description of the geographical location of that tea, there are a lot of smoke and mirrors and it’s taking it one step further away from being real tea. Real tea must be produced in the area specific to that tea and it must also be unblended and prepared in a way specific to that tea. Once we eliminate the producer, the location, and the harvest time, we eliminate what’s most important about the tea and replace it with a clever name that may make it easy to sell but strips it up it’s true identity. Once this occurs, blending and a lot of miss information can take place.
We appreciate you following along and helping us ask these tough questions so that we can all enjoy better teas. You are part of a continuing demand for great teas and direct-trade commodities. As we ask questions and learn more about what we are drinking, we are putting the major companies in a position to answer our call with better teas and a better connection to our producers and farmers.