Thanks ADAMMY, I did get your first joke much later, but the second one got me ROTFLMAO (kidding). And if you do not like my pics, it's OK. We can still be friends.
ycleong, thanks for your comments, postings by auhckw is another gauge of what to buy or to avoid.
puerhking, wrappers are useful, I show it to the vendors and they know what I am talking about.
I live in Beijing but this assignment will not be forever.That is why I am on a feverish spending on pu erh teas of late.
Similarly, I would also love to buy the many wines, CD's (I'm an audiophile) and books and I envy those in Western countries that can walk into a shop to taste, browse or listen before making a purchase. Seeing a pic on the web of these items does help too as I am a "visual" person.
I use this site's various pics and owner's feedback to determine if I should get some of these teas for myself too. I also hope showing pictures and the taste feedback allows forum members the opportunity to make a wiser buying decision should they see similar tea on the vendors shelves back home.
Drax, here in China, the culture of tea drinking is about making friends. It takes 3 to drink tea and chat, 4 to drink wine and get inebriated.
I visit Maliandao Tea city every week. Some stores have shut down, others are switching to selling pu erh teas. They tell me that many consumers in Beijing are switching from green teas to pu erh teas, and they also find it is less risky to sell pu erh teas as it does not turn bad over time and actually improves their bottom line the older the tea gets. It is getting very competitive as more shops starts to sell pu erh, thus good for the consumers.
I am cautious about fakes or poorly stored teas and will buy from regular shop owners who are from Yunnan and authorized Taetea distributors (I've counted 7 so far in Maliandao and prices do vary). China Tea has 4 stores here but 2 are selling black tea, the ones selling pu erh does not have any old teas and have little knowledge of pu erh's - disappointing. Xia Guan has 2 distributors but sells newer teas, I have not yet found the Six Famous Mountains distributor here but there is one in Shanghai. And I have not fully covered this whole stretch of road after over 4 months.
I do crave for the toong of 1988 raw pu erh with ginseng (ren shen) flavor that is not sold separately as bings...or the 1970's loose leaves raw tea that you can boil after the 20th+ infusion and still taste good. Those high value aged old teas are meant for people who buy as gifts as more Beijinger's starts to appreciate pu erh teas. Used to be a drink favored by southerners, now is sought after by people in China's capital city.
And the standard comment from sellers is always the same "Try it, if you like it, buy it, if you don't, we can still be friends" And I do get sucked into trying a 60's or 70's and get hooked and end up buying 25-50 gms.
Also the standard message from almost every tea vendor - for newer ripe pu erh's, buy from the biggest pu erh tea manufacturer (you know who) as they have good QC.
Another wise advice - don't chase for the best quality teas, you will get frustrated, if after a period of time you cannot find it anymore (ie don't get addicted to only the best teas).
There's a lot of activities in Maliandao for other teas and tea accessories as this is the tea distribution center; buyers from other regions and provinces come here to purchase bulk for resale back home.
To end this lengthy message, my Talented Cup is filled with 2003 Jin Ya Wang (Golden Bud King). First cleansing already dark red , flowery, no astringency, full body, medium smooth, slightly sweet. Verdict: Value for money.
Thanks for reading.