Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.


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

Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby braille » Mar 6th, '14, 00:03

So. Greetings teachat!
Have been lurking for a second, but created an account to ask a foolhardy question:
I have a friend who is visiting Hong Kong for the next week or so and, opportunist that I am, I’d like to get some tea out of it!
I’m interested in perhaps a tong of nicer* sheng bings for aging as well as smooth but interesting shu for now. I’m not opposed to a brick or two…
I don’t have the world’s most refined palate, but I’ve been working my way through a sort of grab-bag of everything I’ve been able to find for a reasonable price in the San Francisco bay area and have the feeling that this is not the best place to shop…

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, I have a total budget of $200-$300.
Obviously the main point of this would be cost savings, but not being able to taste is certainly a handicap… My friend is not a tea-addict by any stretch, so relying on her sensorium is out.

What should I get? Is there somewhere I can send my friend that I can trust to fit this bill? I've read the wonderful page of Mr. Tang... Any of those shops more accessible for English-speaking?
Any specific buys to recommend?

Again thanks for your help! Replies of “this is a terrible idea” are welcome too!

*I.E. not crap. I realize I cannot afford anything that would be considered “nice” by sophisticated Chinese consumers, but you get the idea.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby shah82 » Mar 6th, '14, 00:31

Don't do it.

The end.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby shah82 » Mar 6th, '14, 00:37

Buy from

http://www.origintea.net/

or

http://www.white2tea.com/

since presumably, you're after potable aged tea, those two are done by westerners based in the east, and they do their best to curate decent tea.

p.s. If you actually want affirmatively *good* aged tea, they generally cost $300 and up, and the teas that cost that little are relatively young, like 2005. Affirmatively good tea from the '90s are very expensive.

p.s.s. if you're talking about gushu, new cakes are either not that good or obscenely expensive.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby braille » Mar 6th, '14, 00:41

Thank you for your reply! Definitely already had my eye on those two retailers. I'm looking for 1/2 young, not-necessarily-potable-yet sheng and 1/2 shou for drinking now. Definitely NOT looking for aged raw bings, as those are certainly obscenely expensive. Willing to sit on them for a decade or two...
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby Tead Off » Mar 6th, '14, 00:57

braille wrote:Thank you for your reply! Definitely already had my eye on those two retailers. I'm looking for 1/2 young, not-necessarily-potable-yet sheng and 1/2 shou for drinking now. Definitely NOT looking for aged raw bings, as those are certainly obscenely expensive. Willing to sit on them for a decade or two...

I fully agree with Shah. Don't do it.

With your budget, I can recommend this. For a tong, you can probably get a discount. Or, you can even buy a sample and taste before you buy.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby shah82 » Mar 6th, '14, 02:53

Then why would you be interested in sending someone in person anywheres?

If anything the West has cheaper tea per hedon, simply because everyone is interested in ripping off as many unsophisticated mainlander they can convince.

As for tea you actually want to store, I strongly suggest you think in terms of around $150/357g bing. For example, http://teaurchin.com/shop-for-tea/puer/ ... y-gao.html is the only tea I've had from TeaUrchin that's actually affirmatively worth buying. Virtually *every* Xizihao, ChenGuangHeTang, and Yangqinghao @ Houde is severely underpriced now, compared to retail in Asia. For example, http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... ts_id=1305 can give some pretty darn good brews and probably will age well. Mind you, the leftovers are there because they are the worst of what the brands had to offer @ Houde--but they are still >>>many things. If you're interested in something a bit cheaper, why not look into creamofbanna.com? The teas aren't awesome, but they're pretty fairly priced.

Endless amount of good shu available. You'd have to specify what you'd want in a shu... Will only say that Dayi is excessively expensive at times.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby jayinhk » Mar 6th, '14, 07:56

If you send her with a bottle of decent rum, I'll take her tea shopping. :D

A tong of 'nicer sheng bings' for $200-300 is not happening in HK.Tea can be very expensive here--as can wine, Cuban cigars, fine dining and cars. Most expensive of all is property. I'm watching small businesses close up all around me, and chain stores and hotels opening up where they used to be. The rent is killing a lot of older businesses. Tea stores, though, persist. People have to drink tea, and profits must be pretty good. The way this neighborhood is changing, you can find Starbucks next to traditional Chinese medicine dealers, and pizzerias and sushi bars next to old school tea hongs.

Now, that being said, there is decent tea to be had, but $200-300 a cake makes a lot more sense if you want something halfway decent. Prices for sheng here are significantly higher than in China. $50-60 will get you a decent cake of drinking shu. I live here, and I buy a fair amount of tea online from China, just because it's cheaper and easier. I do buy oolongs from local dealers though. I tend to like oolong a lot more than pu erh nowadays!

Now, if I just want a bag of loose shu pu erh to drink, I'd probably buy within 10 minutes of here, just because it's easier.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby MarshalN » Mar 6th, '14, 08:49

Your prices are unfortunately not realistic, and asking a friend to shop for you is deadly. Heed others' advice and don't do it.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby jayinhk » Mar 6th, '14, 13:25

You could just give her a budget of $100 and tell her what you want, and see what she comes back with. :D
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby MEversbergII » Mar 6th, '14, 13:42

I'm going to say I also think it's a bad idea if said friend isn't a tea person. I'd trust some of the forumites here to find something good, but that takes experience...I wouldn't even trust myself!

M.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby kyarazen » Mar 7th, '14, 01:50

jayinhk wrote:You could just give her a budget of $100 and tell her what you want, and see what she comes back with. :D


:mrgreen: it can be fun too.. if i get a friend to do that, i'll make sure she drinks the tea with ME or else.... :lol:

so she'll probably be a bit more careful
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby braille » Mar 7th, '14, 16:14

Thank you all so much!
Russian Roulette approach sounds.. interesting.
Very much appreciate all your suggestions and ample cautions.
Probably going to buy a few of these while I shop for some sheng...
http://www.teavivre.com/ripened-puerh-brick-tea-2006/
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby MEversbergII » Mar 7th, '14, 17:30

You could possibly find some shops online in HK and arrange an in person pickup.

M.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby wyardley » Mar 7th, '14, 18:25

I think there are a few places on the more expensive side of things (Best Teahouse, Lau Yu Fat come to mind) that are unlikely to give you real stinkers - you just won't get the greatest value. Both have some of their products online, so you could pick out some specific things for your friend to pick up.
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Re: Buying tea in HK -- BUT REMOTELY.

Postby jayinhk » Mar 8th, '14, 04:48

^ agree that that is your safest bet--go with the tried and tested. HK people tend to be shu drinkers, since shu was basically created for the HK market. It's 'everyday' tea for much of the population. Many of the older tea shops I go to don't even carry sheng; at best they have a blend of sheng and shu, or they carry some low end sheng as a novelty.
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