Looking for some recommendations from Taobao


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

Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby arcticfox » May 23rd, '13, 16:15

My mother is coming to visit in a few months, from China. She's offered to bring me some tea/teaware, if I can tell her what to order. I guess it doesn't have to be taobao, but any Chinese vendor that I don't have easy access to here in Canada.

I was hoping to get some recommendations for a sheng pu-erh cake or tuo. I'm not very familiar with pu-erh at all, only that I haven't liked any of the cooked ones I've tried.

I'm also planning to look for lots of samples to try, but this is a unique opportunity for me to get a decent quality cake on the cheap. Only, I don't know which vendor are trustworthy, which brand names are good, what year to look for, etc. I think I would like to get a young sheng and an aged one. And the 100g tuo chas are appealing to me because their size is much less daunting than a whole huge cake.

My personal preference for taste tends towards the lighter, refreshing flavors rather than the heavy, sweet or strong teas. I usually prefer green tea and light oolongs over any black or ripe pu-erh.

Links would be very much appreciated!
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby tst » May 23rd, '13, 18:05

I could be very wrong here, but based off your taste preferences, I'm just not sure puerh is the tea for you. "Lighter, refreshing flavors" and "prefer green tea and light oolongs" are pretty much the opposite of what I think of when I consider puerh (again, I could be wrong).

That being said, I understand your desire to try sheng to at least realize this for yourself. Since that is the case, I would not suggest that you buy any entire cakes, or even a whole tuo. I'd recommend buying smaller samples first ... something like 2-5 different shengs, 10-15 grams each max. And because of this suggestion, I'd say to skip taobao. There are plenty of quality vendors who source great puerh samples and sell to the west.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby shah82 » May 23rd, '13, 18:20

Honestly, I mostly had the attitude of "just throw him in the deep end of the pool, already".

Save yourself a bit of pain...

buy a 30g sample for $25 of this http://teaurchin.com/bing-dao-2009-2010-meng-dai.html I mean, it's not as if you're going to be buying a lot of puerh, but lincangs like this are quite green-teaish for a long time. Otherwise, if you want green tea, just buy green tea--even Bingdao can be heavier than most decent greens.

By and large, the track record of friends buying tea for people in the States is not good. Moreover, Taobao has lost a lot of preeminence to brick and mortar shops, it seems. Not too many good deals to be had. There are shops I could suggest, but you're so much the n00b, that I agree with tst. Buy from people you can actually talk to and interact with here. Don't worry about how cheap something is.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby lordsbm » May 23rd, '13, 19:10

Light and refreshing pu erh normally are those with more silver tips, or you just pour away the first 5 steeps of 20s each, you should get that :lol:

This one I'd yet try but I heard that it'll be good for aging but drinking now will be a bit thin. But at <US$5 for 336g who needs samples :lol:
http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z ... 3894008159

You can also look for other tea from that sellers, they are pretty decent and comparable to Xia Guan. Some recommendations will be 752, 817, 966, 2005 凤山老树沱, 款凤轩 series are all pretty decent.

For those big factory tea, try this seller. Try Xia Guan FT or XY series, they are normally drinkable.
http://goodtea114.taobao.com/?spm=2013. ... 6.3.TejbKb
This one pretty light to me, again at <US$8 for 357g 2007 tea, who need samples :roll:
http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z ... 361693504&

This seller tea are decent enough for the price, just maybe you'll find a couple of hair, but heard they had improved in recent years.
http://shop57548013.taobao.com/

Some may feel those are just blends, but the 1st seller, you're likely find wu liang mountain tea for less than <US$5 for 100g. Anyway, blend or not it's the taste that matters.

For shu, XG 销法沱 and DY 7572 are the 2 entry level benchmark.

Remember 买茶有风险、购入要谨慎。Have fun buying off TB :lol:

Edit: Oh ya, skip those pure bing dao, lao ban zhang, or famous mountains. You're unlikely to get the real stuffs online even if you pay a few hundred US$ for a 200/100g cake. They are normally stuffs from nearby lesser known locations or just a blend that contain a small portion of the real stuffs.

IIRC, cost of Bingdao gu shu was reported to be 3000-3500RMB (around US$490-570) per kg up in the mountains. I don't think any seller will sell you at cost price especially small/big factories, and no smart seller will sell you past year tea at ripped off prices.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby arcticfox » May 23rd, '13, 22:05

Thank you for the replies so far! To address a few things, I realize that many places cater to North America, and I can get a lot of samples and try stuff out. That's great and all, but I can do that at any time. This China trip is kind of a once only limited time deal, so I don't really have time to feel out exactly what I'd like before committing to a cake/tuo.

I HAVE tried sheng before, in sample sizes from western dealers, and they've been hit and miss. I think I just haven't figured out my ideal brewing parameters for them, and they seem far less forgiving than some of my other teas and get bitter quickly. Once in a while though, I happen to make a perfect cup and it's amazing :)

I can skip taobao, but I'm not in China in person, and I can't ask my mom to run around to different tea shops all over the country for me, I'd still prefer to purchase online so they can ship to wherever she is and minimize the effort on her part.

I'm not entirely certain how much I want to spend, lets say that I'm willing to pay for quality but not rarity, and it doesn't have to be a good deal compared to a brick and mortar shop, just a good deal compared to buying the same thing from a western vendor.

Basically, the things I can get here in Canada, I can get anytime. What's something that I can only get (easily) in China?

shah82: That's quite the daunting price, even for a sample. Perhaps later, when I've developed a palate worthy of such teas :P I doubt I could appreciate the difference between that and... I don't know, I don't even know enough to think of something to compare to.

Lordsbm: Thank you for all the suggestions! I will look into them, maybe try to read some customer reviews with my limited Chinese skills.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby shah82 » May 23rd, '13, 23:09

Puerh is currently in a bubble.

It is difficult to get good puerh without solid contacts in China. A big part of why you'd go with reputable Western shops is so that you avoid all the scammers and chem-ladened teas. If your person does not, him or herself, have connections, then it is very easy to overpay for bad tea. People have definitely tried to go to the source to buy lots of tea. In most cases, they wind up buying lots of cheap teas that one could get equivalents here, and they didn't buy any or more of the expensive teas that could be had at reasonable prices, because...expensive... Of course, five years later, it's way too expensive to get the expensive tea, and you've learned that you don't *really* enjoy drinking the cheap ones. Best success has easily been in Hong Kong or Taiwan, simply because the people aren't crazy grasping there. However, that only means that when you pay a lot of money for tea, you can rely on the tea not to be fake. Well, more so...

Are there good deals in China? I guess so, but they aren't easy to find, and you'd have to work very hard sampling a lot of bad teas before you find a few you think is worth it. Of that bunch, five years down the road, you maybe think one or two of that bunch was really worth it.

Right now, the cost of living in China is much higher than you'd think it'd be, for all sorts of things. The problems in the puerh market is reflective of broader problems in the provision of consumer goods.

I suggested the tea I did, because I was thinking in terms of ultra friendly and obvious tastes. Yes, that's probably not real Bingdao, but close enough for unsophisticated tastes. I do strongly suggest that you take puerh on its own terms, though.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby shah82 » May 23rd, '13, 23:10

It would be of tremendous help if you told us what puerh made your day.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby MarshalN » May 23rd, '13, 23:28

I would strongly recommend against asking your mom to bring you any tea, especially if she's not herself a big drinker. You are much more likely to get consistently decent tea from online sources that do cater to the Western market than you are randomly walking into some tea store in China and hoping for the best. More likely than not your mom will end up with teas that are sub-par, not to your liking, or just generally not good value for money. It's never, ever, a good idea to get someone to buy tea for you if you can't tell them exactly what you are looking for.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby lordsbm » May 24th, '13, 02:07

arcticfox wrote:Lordsbm: Thank you for all the suggestions! I will look into them, maybe try to read some customer reviews with my limited Chinese skills.


You aren't sure what u want, then just buy the entry, cheaper range. Take it as paying tuition fee at a discount of what you'll likely pay from International sellers. :lol:

Anyway it's your money, spend it how you want it. Just take whatever you read as a reference. You are the spender and drinker. There's no reason why anyone should tell u otherwise.

U gave a strange forward question in ur title, I gave u the answer you wanted. The rest of the decision is urs to make. Have fun :lol:
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby jayinhk » May 24th, '13, 22:58

I'm going to say get a 2005 or earlier 7542 from a Taobao seller with at least a few 4.9s in his or her ratings, and pick up some samples too. No way in heck you'd be able to get tea that cheap in Canada. SInce you're into oolongs, I'd buy some on there too. Look for sellers with better rep who are popular. You pick the tea and then have mom buy it for you and carry it over. :)

As for brewing, I use water around 95 degrees C for sheng as I feel it keeps the bitterness down well.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby theredbaron » May 24th, '13, 23:37

MarshalN wrote:I would strongly recommend against asking your mom to bring you any tea, especially if she's not herself a big drinker. You are much more likely to get consistently decent tea from online sources that do cater to the Western market than you are randomly walking into some tea store in China and hoping for the best. More likely than not your mom will end up with teas that are sub-par, not to your liking, or just generally not good value for money. It's never, ever, a good idea to get someone to buy tea for you if you can't tell them exactly what you are looking for.


+ 1

You would be much better off to start with samples from reputable online vendors such as Yunnansourcing and many others here on teachat mentioned. The tea market in China is wild, and there are far more low quality teas on offer than good teas. If your mother does not know about tea, and doesn't have the contacts where to buy, chances are almost nil that she will come back with a good tea.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby arcticfox » May 25th, '13, 14:02

jayinhk wrote:I'm going to say get a 2005 or earlier 7542 from a Taobao seller with at least a few 4.9s in his or her ratings, and pick up some samples too. No way in heck you'd be able to get tea that cheap in Canada. SInce you're into oolongs, I'd buy some on there too. Look for sellers with better rep who are popular. You pick the tea and then have mom buy it for you and carry it over. :)

As for brewing, I use water around 95 degrees C for sheng as I feel it keeps the bitterness down well.


Thanks! I have my eyes on a couple of vendors that seem very popular with high ratings. I figure at prices like this, even if I end up with low quality stuff, I only wasted a few dollars on "tuition" :wink: I've already got some oolongs picked out as well. I'm far more familiar with oolongs and greens so I might spend a bit more.
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Re: Looking for some recommendations from Taobao

Postby jayinhk » Jun 3rd, '13, 01:45

arcticfox wrote:
jayinhk wrote:Thanks! I have my eyes on a couple of vendors that seem very popular with high ratings. I figure at prices like this, even if I end up with low quality stuff, I only wasted a few dollars on "tuition" :wink: I've already got some oolongs picked out as well. I'm far more familiar with oolongs and greens so I might spend a bit more.


Yup, I agree, that is the way to get some cheap 'tuition.' Consider it an exchange program. :lol: Let us know what you find and if it's as good as it sounded.
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