OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?


"Official Tea Tasting Initiative" Teas shared & discussed.

OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Chip » Feb 19th, '11, 10:58

I am considering splitting the OTTI in general.

Create something called something such as JTTI under OTTI, pronounced jatti and standing for Japanese Tea Tasting Initiative. Then we could offer one JTTI round per month as a goal that would include teas like sencha, gyokuro, matcha, karigane/kukicha, guricha, etc. And seasonal offerings like a sakura tasting.

Then all other teas would still be under OTTI and we would shoot for one of these per month.

This would give all the other teas more of an opportunity instead of competing so to speak with Japanese teas.

So, what do you think? I welcome your comments, please.

Thanks,
Chip
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby David R. » Feb 19th, '11, 11:38

Great idea ! I have so many things to learn about japanese teas and this is close to be the best way to do so.

I'll be waiting ! :)
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Nenugal » Feb 19th, '11, 11:58

Excellent idea :)
It would also be interesting to have a Korean OTTI once, I'm curious about Korean teas but never had a chance to try them...
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Chip » Feb 19th, '11, 13:29

Yeah, I think this would be bangin' and then the Japanese tastings would not be constantly "interfering" with OTTIs ... so to speak.

As far as the Korean tasting, definitely ... but we would be doing those under the OTTIs.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby wyardley » Feb 19th, '11, 14:17

Why have a special name for it? Why not just have more OTTIs?

re: the gyokuro one specifically, wasn't the point of OTTI that recipients just pay for postage, and that the samples are provided by the vendors or generous donors?
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Chip » Feb 19th, '11, 15:34

wyardley wrote:Why have a special name for it? Why not just have more OTTIs?

re: the gyokuro one specifically, wasn't the point of OTTI that recipients just pay for postage, and that the samples are provided by the vendors or generous donors?

I thought it was kind of clear in the Gyokuro OTTI topic that vendors would NOT be donating this premium product. I will spell that out better in that topic. :mrgreen: Thing is, I will often be going to the same vendor and would not want to wear out our welcome.

The advantage to participants is that they would not have to spend 100's of $$$ to sample such premium offerings.

Also, the OTTI program cannot run at a loss since it is not bankrolled by anyone or any company at this time. Sponsorship is a challenge due to the Adagio ownership ... however I have certainly NOT ruled it out.

Different names, because they would often be running concurrently and the JTTI would likely run slightly differently. For organizational structure buffs, the JTTI would likely be a part of and run under OTTI.

Thanks for your input.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Chip » Feb 19th, '11, 15:40

Stentor wrote:Great idea. Not sure about every month but every 2 months should easily keep us busy for a year. That's not to say that I'm opposed to a monthly JTTI (JOTTI? :))
Oh and Gyokuro tasting sounds good whatever you want to call it :)

Yeah, but if I think one per month, realistically it will more likely be every 6 - 8 weeks, however there will definitely be times when there will be one per month, seasonally ... for instance during Shincha. :mrgreen:
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby wyardley » Feb 19th, '11, 17:00

Chip wrote:I thought it was kind of clear in the Gyokuro OTTI topic that vendors would NOT be donating this premium product. I will spell that out better in that topic.

Yes. It was crystal clear. I wasn't saying that I didn't understand it; just that I didn't like it. And seems especially bad timing after the last OTTI, where a non-vendor contributed a large amount of tea which he had paid for himself, without getting any compensation.

However, buying the tea outright, rather than having vendors contribute, turns it into more of a "tea of the month" club or "group buy" / co-op type thing. It does allow better and more expensive teas to participate, but then who gets to decide which vendors will benefit? And if it's the same vendor(s) every time, they're getting both additional revenue and free advertising.

While I am sure that you are not in this to make money (nor would I begrudge you for getting , it's almost impossible to operate something like this both not at a loss, and also not at a gain.

Having a co-op type thing like this doesn't seem like a bad idea, but I don't know if it should be an "official" Teachat thing either.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Chip » Feb 19th, '11, 18:07

Ohhh, it was you who was not clear, not sure how I could get that you said you did not like it? Of course you are speaking as an outside observer having never participated in an OTTI, though you are always welcome!

This is a bit unusual and different in that the 5 different gyokuro-s are retail around 80 USD per 100 grams plus shipping. Also the vendors will be mostly those who have already contributed to OTTIs past. Thus I feel it is warranted to do this differently. This will not be the new norm. There will continue to be OTTI and "JTTI" at nominal cost. BUT there would not be a tasting of 5 uber premo gyokuro without a change in course.

As I have publicly thanked contributors of OTTIs past, including the last 90's Pu-OTTI, and encouraged others to do so as well, not sure what more I can do. In this case, both parties eagerly contacted me and were eager to contribute to this exciting OTTI. And we are all very appreciative of their and all vendors who have participated.

If this Gyokuro OTTI has offended anybody who has contributed, I encourage the party to contact me directly and I will pay for the teas out of my own pocket.

But bottom line, yes, this is excellent promotion for participating vendors who want to participate, and I am always open to others partipating. And the tastings will continue, and I will seek new and more exciting tastings to conduct. A high end Gyokuro tasting is one that has been requested by numerous members.

I am also open to suggestions on any facet of the program, but also potential vendors who may want to participate. I may consider changes to how teas/vendors are selected in the future.

You are correct, it is virtualy impossible to break absolutely even given all the unknowns going in and also given future anticipated expenses. I will err on the side of a small "profit" since a loss comes out of my own pocket and there are larger expences forthcoming as we seek to enhance the program and make it more exciting for participating members and vendors alike.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby brandon » Feb 20th, '11, 06:59

The US market price of my teas was *at least* $50/100g (I was lucky to get it closer to the source, but the gyokuro prices include vendor markup so why shouldn't I?), so a bit of "the rub" is that the very next guy on the scene thinks it is too cost prohibitive to play by the same rules as we have been from the start.

Or that Japanese tea is more expensive/premo/whatever than Chinese tea.

I don't need the money in the slightest, just thought we'd keep the same spirit going for at least a few more rounds. Was very happy to share with the TeaChat community, and probably would have done it again.

But if someone is going to change to a paid model, why not just sell it myself at retail?

Or drink it all... :P
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Noahnoir » Feb 20th, '11, 08:07

i like the jtti concept! Image
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby wyardley » Feb 20th, '11, 14:54

I guess it's the separatism that bugs me; obviously many folks on this forum lean more towards certain types of teas, but I thought we were still part of one tea forum. It's absolutely true that I've never participated in OTTI; I'm just expressing my opinion, since opinions were asked for.

Given that there's already no requirement for people to participate in any given OTTI, I don't quite understand why there couldn't simply be more frequent / overlapping OTTIs, rather than creating an entirely separate program.

Chip PMed me about this, and while I thought I had made it clear in my previous message, re-reading it made me realize that I hadn't finished one thought; so just to make it very clear, since I've done my share of packing tea samples, coordinating group buys, buying tea for people, etc., I understand all too well how much work this involves. My objections don't stem from the thought that Chip is going to be sitting on a pile of profits from this. I just feel, personally, that a "group buy" type thing shouldn't be an official forum initiative (and by "official", I don't mean that Adagio or other vendors or involved or provide support; I just mean that the volunteer moderators call it official), because it just seems to create a ton of ethical complications.

In some sense, paying for the teas provided does actually make things a little better and cleaner (having vendors provide free samples is problematic in its own ways), but new problems come up: who decides which vendors will benefit, and which teas are worthy of inclusion. Having this be handled by a committee, vote, or group discussion seems too complicated and potentially problematic.

Speaking more generally, there is always better tea, and more expensive tea, and better and more expensive often seem to go together. Don't get me wrong; I think that anyone that brings people access to better tea is a good thing. That just isn't what my understanding of what OTTI was.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby JRS22 » Feb 20th, '11, 15:42

I think that calling these "Official" tea tastings is spot on given that they're open to everyone on Teachat. And given the unfortunate controversy and series of postings about a problem with one of the vendors early on it was always clear to me that at least sometimes Chip was buying the tea from the vendors, rather than soliciting contributions.

I really value the opportunity to try small samples of tea. Japanese tea especially is generally not available in packages under 50 grams, and that's a lot of tea to own when 5 grams are enough to prove that I do or don't like that tea.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Stentor » Feb 20th, '11, 16:18

I agree. I also would appreciate the opportunity to regularly try several Japanese teas without having to buy them in bags between 50 g and 100 g (some even 200 g).
Additionally, I like the group experience and the discussion about the teas.

I don't mind paying my share and I don't mind Chip making like $1 per participant. He does spend a considerable amount of time on the organization and logistics after all.

That being said, I agree that in the end, the vendors whose teas are being tasted stand to profit a lot by gaining regular and long term buyers of their products.
And it's not just that people will buy a tea that they liked, they'll buy other teas from that vendor because in a way the vendor immediately gets a reputation of offering quality tea (in general).
I know that after liking one tea from a vendor from the last Sencha OTTI, I bought other teas from that vendor just because I felt confident the vendor would have other quality teas.
Also, I think the fact that everybody (not just OTTI/JTTI participants or TeaChat members for that matter) can read what the OTTI/JTTI participants write about the tea is essentially free advertising for the vendors. Before I became a member of TeaChat, I read through these kinds of threads to find out what more experienced tea drinkers thought of some of the teas these vendors were offering.

Maybe you (Chip) should just pitch this exact idea (the idea behind "JTTI") to the top 5-10 vendors. If they agree to contribute X grams of tea every couple of months it should be possible to do this every 4-8 weeks.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank 1: You say OTTI, I say JTTI?

Postby Chip » Feb 20th, '11, 17:04

Thank you for your comments.

I hope to see the overall OTTI taking us on a grand journey over time. There will be more beginner grades to higher grades with member costs from 6 USD to 50 USD, perhaps even higher.

This is NOT a profit driven adventure, it is an adventure in sharing teas with other aficionados. It is about opportunities in tastings that would likely not be available otherwise. As wyardley has alread mentioned, each OTTI requires a LOT of time, I am conservatively estimating it at 15-25 hours per OTTI including the Mrs.' assistance.

I certainly see a higher grade aged pu OTTI at some point. But at my level of knowledge on sheng, I was very happy and appreciative to sample the new sheng and the 90's sheng offered in these OTTIs. This was my comfort level for this Pu-OTTI. :mrgreen:

What I am trying to do with the Gyokuro OTTIs is something new for TeaChat. I have had my share of 25 USD gyokuro which IMHO is usually good for blending purposes and not generally very good on its own with 1-2 exceptions. Often these so called gyokuro are not even gyokuro at all, but misnomered kabuse. Truly, good gyo starts in the 40's and very good ones in the 50's. We will hopefully have less exensive Gyokuro -OTTIs!

I proposed 3 separate OTTI' consisting of 15 different gyokuro, the rarest of Japanese teas. 5 would be in the 60ish USD price range, 5 in the 80 USD, and 5 in the 100 USD ranges. These are the rarest of rare selections of gyokuro. Why do this, I guess I could ask, why not? :mrgreen: Nobody will be forced to do this, it is as always, if you want to do it, here is the opportunity. 5, 10, or 15 stunning gyokuro-s.

In order to pull it off, instead of going to all these vendors and asking for their most rare and expensive teas, I decided to buy. It truly would have been virtually impossible to pull off these 3 tastings otherwise.

Bottom line, this is an exception to the rule series of OTTIs and a rare opp for members to sample 15 rare and exceptional gyokuro selections that would not be possible otherwise. A different course of action is required in order to pull it off.

OTTIs will likely continue to be offered at nominal cost and generous sources of donated product.

Besides, I am only human, it would simply be extremely time consuming and futile to source 15 free gyokuro in this range, plus I could not offer the exact gyokuros I want to.
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