Best city/country to buy puerh

One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby needaTEAcher » Dec 7th, '11, 21:23

I live in Seoul, South Korea. I found a grat shop here that sells what seems to me to be really good tea for very good prices.

Next year I am traveling to many countries:
India and SE Asia (I assume not the places)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hong Kong
all over Yunnan
Taipei, Taiwan can be added

Where is the best place (quality to price) to buy puerh? I can see Yunnan, but I got to thinking about the company here in Seoul. They have massive buying power, so they can get a lot of tea for so much cheaper than I could in Yunnan or Hong Kong, and then they might even sell it for less that the prics I could find as an individual. I want to spend a pretty solid amount on a range of mid- to high-end pu, so I want to buy in the best place.

Also, side-note, what about Zisha clay? Cheaper in Yixing directly or elsewhere? Ths store in Seoul owns a factory in Yixing and they sell pretty kice clay for rrleasonable prices. Everything is certainly cheaper than back home (US).


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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby MarshalN » Dec 7th, '11, 21:29

It depends on what you're looking for.

I was told by Nicolas Tang that Singapore is no good. KL - I think if you know where to go, you can find some interesting stuff there.

Hong Kong is good for certain kinds of things (older, usually slightly traditionally stored teas). It's not particularly good for newer teas.

Beijing is a mixed bag - again, you need to know where to go.

There's more tea than you can buy in Yunnan (as is true for some of the above places). The problem with going anywhere in the mainland to buy is you have to pretty much know what you're doing - it's far too easy to get stuff that actually isn't good or is severely overpriced.

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby TokyoB » Dec 7th, '11, 21:48

I agree with MarshalN in that you have to know what you are doing. You can find good tea in several of the places you mention. I have been to a few of them and I find the hard part is finding the best shops to go to where "best" is a combination of having good tea and an honest seller. You could literally spend months in Beijng alone exploring various shops. I'm sure Yunnan is similar. So unless this trip will last a couple of months or more (and maybe it will!) you should really try to get some recommendations on which shops to go to. You can find good puerh in Taipei, Beijing for sure and I presume in KL and Yunnan as well. For that matter, I'm sure you can in Seoul as well.

Unfortunately I haven't been to Yixing but I have heard that their prices can be quite high. Yixing teapots are like old puerh - an unscrupulous vendor can tell you any kind of story and try to overcharge you. You really need to know what you are doing unless you just purchase something fairly inexpensive in which case there is no point in trying to deceive you. Sorry to sound so cynical but that's the way things seem to be, especially in Beijing I feel.

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby the_economist » Dec 7th, '11, 23:03

Don't get your hopes up for Singapore, I can give you one or two suggestions when the time comes (drop me a pm or something) but generally good teas are not cheap relative to your other options.

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby MarshalN » Dec 8th, '11, 00:12

The Longjing rule applies for yixing - the best stuff don't stay there.

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby needaTEAcher » Dec 8th, '11, 01:01

MarshalN wrote:The Longjing rule applies for yixing - the best stuff don't stay there.

I was thinking along those lines. So then, to change the question, does anyone have experience in enough of these cities to say which one would have the better prices? Or is it really just shop by shop throughout them all, in which case the shop I have in Seoul is likely among the better ones (it is freakin awesome)? I got pretty nice semi-handmade hongni and zini 100ml pots for about $45 each, though they have up to $11k pots for sale, and my three favorite teas there are
-1988 shou for $40/100 grams
-1996 sheng for $300/250 grams
-1996 shou for $150/500 grams (my favorite)

I know this doesn't really help, since it all depends on leaf quality, storage quality, and scarcity. I just wanted to post it!

Also, in terms of knowing what I'm doing, I think I can usually tell blatant forgeries for yixing, but anything sophisticated and I wouldn't know (I can go down the checklist, but I just don't have the experience to decide if this "ping" sounds right or not!). As per puerh, I can tell my shou from my sheng (not from dry leaves all the time, though sometimes-mostly by liquor and taste), and I can usually tell the overall range or age, though I am still pretty novice. I can typically hazard a somewhat educated estimate as to the storage method by looking and tasting.

At the end of the day, I just want to feel comfortable looking somewhere that I will have the best shot at not getting totally ripped off. If someone rips me off and I don't know it, and I am happy with the tea, then so be it! :lol:

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby sp1key » Dec 8th, '11, 03:11

China : Best prices for sheng/shou (except aged sheng) but like marshaln says... you need to know your stuff or you'll get lost.

SG : Not much choices, not cheap.

KL : Sometimes you'll find some nice aged liu bao, prices are not cheap nowadays. Good mix of b grades could be found. Hit or miss. Transportation could be an issue as shops are mostly scattered out miles apart.

HK/TW : Good choices of aged sheng if you head to the reputable shops. Try them first and consider only if you like it.

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby chrl42 » Dec 8th, '11, 22:06

Truth is many Koreans do live in Beijing and Yunnan, I don't think you might be able feel so many differences in Beijng to Seoul.

I'd rather give props to HK, Taiwan and Malaysia even though I don't like their storage condition. My two cent.

As I'm getting to Yixings, the place I really wanna go search for Yixing is Japan for now. :D

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Re: Best city/country to buy puerh

Postby needaTEAcher » Dec 9th, '11, 00:53

I just met the owner of the flagship store of the GU Ceramics and GU Tea in Korea. It is a Chinese company with stores in China, Korea, and Malaysia (maybe more, I am not sure). He was super friendly and spent over an hour just teaching me things.

He echoed what is written here, that KL is a good place to get "reasonable" quality puerh for very good prices, and HK and Taiwan for high-grade puerh, though the prices range from "reasonable" to "not-so-reasonable". 8)

He said that the prices for puerh in Yunnan are usually unreasonable, and that the same is true for the ceramics in Yixing. He said Seoul is actually one of the better places to buy both, because the prices are decent and they stay stable. He said the prices fluctuate wildly in China.

Also, btw, I got my itchy little hands on a $25ish duanni teapot with the intention of learning what makes it lower quality, as compared to my lovey $200 duanni teapot. I had him look at the cheap one today, and he freaked out. It is apparently 10 years old, and part of a series of art pieces by a woman whose name I can't remember. A master, apparently. He looked it up online, and said it sells in China for $180ish, which is a HUGE surprise for me! Lucky lucky! I am going to go back and look for its sister, which I remember seeing. Heehee. :twisted:

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