HK Tea Shop Recommendations


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HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby ChengduCha » May 31st, '13, 00:23

I'll be in Hong Kong in two weeks and wonder if some of you who live there or have shopped for tea there can recommend some tea shops to me with reasonable prices and a not too shark like mentality of the owner / shop staff (a common problem in China).

I'm not looking to spend more than 500ish HKD per cake so I'm not interested in shops that mainly cater to the high end market.

Thanks in advance. :)
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby Teaism » May 31st, '13, 01:10

Check out this site.

http://www.nicolastang.com/tea/hongkong.html

I have visited most of the shops and a few others over the years.

Tea hunting is very interesting. Depending on your skill and the brewer skill, you can get a bargain or badly disappointed. The service is important but the ability to judge the tea is more important. Experience tea merchant/brewer usually gauge your preference and try to brew to suit your taste. Experience buyer will calibrate mentally to perceive the actual quality of the tea. It is a complicated process, unless you can buy a sample and analyse like a mad scientist at home before deciding to buy more. I usually buy tea that way for decades, calibrate the tea mentally after tasting the first brew in the shop (by keenly observing the quantity, water temperature and steeping time and the utensil etc etc). Sometimes I bring back some sample to work hard on it before deciding to buy more.

Anyway,from the list, probably Sun Sing is convenient and suitable for you if you are at city area. The Best Tea House have some good sheng but they are expensive to me and very pushy lately from my experience. Lau Yu Fat Tea shop is cosy and the boss is friendly. They sell the Lin Ceramic stuffs. Usually I avoid those shops at Yue Hwa supermarket but sometimes peek just to see what kind of tea they have. I always shook my head when I see they way the Longjing are displayed in open glass tank there.

Happy hunting! And use your tongue and eyes to buy and don't hear too much.

Cheers!
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby ChengduCha » May 31st, '13, 02:15

Teaism wrote:Happy hunting! And use your tongue and eyes to buy and don't hear too much.


That's my advantage in China - I don't understand much putonghua and my wife only translates if asked, so I just look, taste and judge it in comparison to the price without having to listen to the sales talk about tea of the emperors and whatnot. :D

Thanks for the link. :)

Anyway,from the list, probably Sun Sing is convenient and suitable for you if you are at city area.


With their customers mainly being tourists according to the list, I don't know if it's the right place for me, but being able to buy samples is a good thing. Dealers in China don't like to do that, as few people are interested in that and it leaves them with a cake they can't sell anymore and can only use as brewing material for tastings.
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby Teaism » May 31st, '13, 02:39

Most of them don't sell sample. Normally I just take the risk and buy a piece if it seems to be of good potential after reviewing the leaves and tasting it. The fun or risk of sheng is that we never know how it will turn out to be. Generally after many years of experience, the good ones can be narrowed down, but eventually the intrinsic quality and the storage will determine the tea. This will lead to another long debate... :lol:

Have a good trip. Hong Kong is also a food paradise. Enjoy the food there.

Don't forget to visit the Yixing teapot museum. You can see old masterpieces teapots there and also experience the old real zisha. There is a teahouse and tea restaurant in the museaum which you can enjoy browing around. In HK island there are also a few teahouses scattered around that area.

Cheers!
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby jayinhk » May 31st, '13, 05:46

MarshalN is the one to talk to about HK tea. He knows the scene very well and has tea connections I will never have! I am but a n00b, so I won't give you any suggestions.

For young sheng pu, you won't find as much of a selection in HK as you would on the mainland, and prices will most likely be much higher. HK is shu territory in a big way, and the range available is absolutely staggering. You can sometimes find good deals on bings if you look. Looking is definitely part of the fun for me as I sometimes find stuff I absolutely love (and other times won't buy again). Some tea stores will gladly sell you a leung (tael) of loose tea.

It might be interesting to visit some of the better tea stores and try some of their house cakes since you won't find those as easily in China.

What kind of pu are you after?

You won't find a shark-like mentality at most stores in HK. Most places have prices clearly displayed and there is no haggling. This being HK, you might just get a sales pitch in English, although I don't think talk of emperors will be all that likely. ;)

I almost always buy small amounts of tea from a variety of older (1950s-1960s) and lesser-known stores to see what each place has to offer and what their 'house flavor' is like. I quite enjoy the fact these establishments cater to long-term customers who look nothing like I do, which is entertaining for everyone concerned, and they often have great prices for great tea.

I tend to buy loose tea (more oolong than pu nowadays) the traditional way, however, and buy most of my bings on Taobao. The HK market is VERY diverse and you can get robbed or get astonishingly good deals on the same block, depending on where you go. Caveat emptor!
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby Teaism » May 31st, '13, 09:27

Well said jayinhk. :wink:

Cheers!
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby wyardley » May 31st, '13, 11:28

jayinhk wrote:You won't find a shark-like mentality at most stores in HK. Most places have prices clearly displayed and there is no haggling.

Depends on the shop and how much you're buying, but you can definitely haggle. Certain places won't bargain, but plenty of places will.
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby jayinhk » May 31st, '13, 15:51

That is true wyardley, and certain stores will haggle on teaware, but not tea (or vice versa). I guess it's always worth a shot. The worst they can say is no :mrgreen:
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby Tead Off » Jun 1st, '13, 01:17

jayinhk wrote:That is true wyardley, and certain stores will haggle on teaware, but not tea (or vice versa). I guess it's always worth a shot. The worst they can say is no :mrgreen:

It doesn't hurt to ask. I've gotten discounts more times than not. Usually never more than 10%. HK merchants are usually quite affable.

That blog by Nicolas that Teaism mentions can be quite useful. Of course, having Marshaln take you on a tea tour would be great, but maybe jayinhk will volunteer!
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby jayinhk » Jun 1st, '13, 11:43

I would, but I'm not entirely sure where I'll be in two weeks...there are a few possibilities :lol:
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby wyardley » Jun 1st, '13, 14:18

jayinhk wrote:That is true wyardley, and certain stores will haggle on teaware, but not tea (or vice versa). I guess it's always worth a shot. The worst they can say is no :mrgreen:

Yes... I know that there is kind of a culture of not haggling (on both the buying and selling side) in HK. Personally, I feel like it never hurts to try, though. Also depends how much you're buying too; if you're just buying something small, of course shops are unlikely to cut you a deal.
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby ChengduCha » Jun 1st, '13, 23:25

I'm not much of a haggler when it's about personal purchases as it just drains me off energy for very little money gained.

When I buy 5+ cakes my wife usually asks for a discount and gets a reasonable one without having to specify amounts, but haggling in China otherwise is usually a long argument where the seller is slowly worked down by 30% or more. :D
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby MarshalN » Jun 2nd, '13, 10:21

You haven't told us what you're actually looking for.
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby ChengduCha » Jun 2nd, '13, 23:19

MarshalN wrote:You haven't told us what you're actually looking for.


I guess I mostly prefer somewhat dry stored sheng and shu, but I don't think I'll pay "The Best Teahouse" a visit (which according to Nicholas Tang's list seems to be specialized in it), given that they mainly tend to cater to the high end market.

I'm mostly interested in house brands / unknown brands / high quality loose pu. I'm not really interested in buying pottery or big brand cakes that I can easily buy in mainland China.

I'm always up for trying different teas, but with limited time on hand I'll most likely stick to pu erh.
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Re: HK Tea Shop Recommendations

Postby MarshalN » Jun 2nd, '13, 23:40

$500 HKD a cake is a pretty low bar. If you want dry stored teas you aren't going to find much that's good here at that kind of price.
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