Is it really worth that much?


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

Is it really worth that much?

Postby puerhking » Oct 14th, '08, 18:05

I know this is subjective and a matter of supply and demand but....
Do you guys think, for example, that $50+ beengs that are 5 or more years old really worth the money? Lets even say they are quite good. I know ones disposable income comes to bear on these opinions.

For example I bought a bottle of Dom. du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau which I liked. But I did not love it and certainly did not think it was worth the price. You now how the psychology of desire and want can make you think things are worth something when they just arnt.

I love tea and puerh in particular. Sometimes I just think that I am looking for the holy grail.....which of course will never be found.
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Postby Sydney » Oct 14th, '08, 19:16

Depends on what you're looking for.

If you're looking for a knock-your-socks-off tea in a general sense, you can find plenty at much better prices than the cost of really high-end puerh.

But once you get up into the realm of "Grade A" teas, $50/beeng probably isn't unreasonable for "quite good" tea.

I spend plenty enough on top shelf teas of other varieties, and probably don't do much better cup-for-cup.

Now, if you start looking at nosebleed-priced puerh, you should either just have the money to blow or really want that tea to justify the expense.
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Postby tony shlongini » Oct 14th, '08, 19:28

I $50 bing translates to roughly a $65 pound.

I'm holding my Ten Ren catalog, and lo and behold $65 buys you a pound of 3rd grade oolong.

It's not really all that expensive. I find pu'er to be fairly priced, in general.
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Postby tenuki » Oct 14th, '08, 19:42

As everything in life getting to 80% of excellence is relatively easy. Question always is, are you satisfied with that? My favorite puerh currently is a '85 Lincang yinhao toucha that cost me $40/100g. I pay that for DaYuLing every season, so this seems completely reasonable to me. I consider both of those examples 80% of the way to excellence btw.

As far as 'what is expensive' - Let's take one of my other 20+ year puerh as an example, it cost ~360 US dollars for ~400g purchased in china. Let's round that out to $1/g for convenience.

Since it likes about 4g/100ml that means the cost of a pot is 4 dollars. It goes for around 15 brewings per pot, so that is ~ 25 cents cup of tea. My wife pays 4 dollars for 12 oz of crappy starbucks coffee every day and doesn't think of it at all. People regularily pay 1.20 for _water_. Think about it...

Another thing that confuses the issue a bit with Puerh, is that price or age _does not_ actually guarantee good. The best are aged and cost of course, but there is plenty of crap that is aged and costs too. Nowdays I won't pay for aged shen puerh unless I get a chance to drink it first. I generally don't like shu at all so I only buy one I try and really like. I'll happily buy green shen from a known factory that looks interesting and is from a reputable source.
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Postby teakid » Oct 14th, '08, 23:28

Considering the small amount of money that the farmers receive for each kilo of raw material, I would have to say no, it's really not worth that much. Someone out there is profiting way too much. I wouldn't be surprised a $50 beeng of 2 years age that was produced by a named factory, could have easily been made by a farmer for $5-10.
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Postby tenuki » Oct 15th, '08, 00:22

teakid wrote:Considering the small amount of money that the farmers receive for each kilo of raw material, I would have to say no, it's really not worth that much. Someone out there is profiting way too much. I wouldn't be surprised a $50 beeng of 2 years age that was produced by a named factory, could have easily been made by a farmer for $5-10.


It's 'worth' whatever people will pay for it, and since good puerh does get better over time it appreciates in value. I think the question was more along the lines of if the experience was worth the price.
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Postby puerhking » Oct 15th, '08, 00:33

I spent six years really getting into wine. In the end I was just buying wines that were in the $15 - $25 range finding that they were just as good and sometimes better than higher dollar wines. Granted I was not buying first growth Bordeaux.

So I think the question is.......is the experience that much better for higher dollar puerh cakes when you can find many fantastic ones in the $10-$25? And if we decide that they are better how much does expectation (due to higher price and or hype) effect this conclusion?

I have no doubt that tea is a great value by and large....just by comparing it to a bottle of wine.
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Postby Salsero » Oct 15th, '08, 01:12

puerhking wrote: .......is the experience that much better for higher dollar puerh cakes when you can find many fantastic ones in the $10-$25?
I like to find values, but it is easier to find good recent cakes in the the $20 to $40 range and aged cakes are almost always more.

In fact, the only sensible way -- as Tenuki points out above -- to buy puerh is to sample first. In a great teashop you can sample brewed tea for free. In the cyber world where most of us live, you have to pay for your samples but you get quite a few sessions to experiment with.

Once you have sampled a specific puerh, the value cost equation is way easier to factor. In fact, most offerings are not compelling enough to buy a cake at any price! A forum like this, of course, is a great tool in searching for the good stuff and maybe finding some of those great deals where the value is high compared to the price.

Right now: a 2000 HTC shu from Jim in my cup. I paid $8.00 for a 2 oz sample and I am loving it, so I have no regrets. If I had paid $50 for a whole cake, I don't think I would be enjoying it!
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Postby Trioxin » Oct 15th, '08, 02:31

To me, I don't find an aged cake worth the price. I'm finding half the fun is buying young (wich I'm perfectly happy with) and aging the cakes myself. I want my tea to age and mature with me. I want to be able to taste its progression through the coming years.
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Postby thanks » Oct 15th, '08, 03:57

Right now I'm still focusing on building an aging collection to guarantee enjoyment in my later years. With that being said, after finishing up buying what I want from this year, and buying a few tongs of good recipes next year plus a few random cakes of good high-end productions (Menghai's Peacock series is a good example, something along those lines) I will start to buy slightly aged sheng. After I buy up a few 5-10 year old sheng cakes, maybe more, I'm going to start buying shu, so that I can drink while I wait. Once all that is over with, I'll start to buy truly aged sheng I find worth the price after trying a sample. I figure by the time all of this comes full circle, some of my cakes will start to become more refined, and hopefully I will have made wise aging decisions. My only worry is that I won't have enough of the teas that I have "raised" or reared from factory birth. A friend of Cloud's said it best when he said something along the lines of the best tea in the world was his tea, or rather tea he has aged himself since the factory.

Even after all of that though, I absolutely refuse to pay certain prices for certain tea. I would never pay the asking price for a bing of 99 Big Green Tree. Not only is the price ridiculous, it still tastes too young! I refuse to pay some of Xi Zhi Hao's ridiculous asking prices for brand new sheng, and Menghai's releases become too expensive sometimes 8 months after release! I think a lot of it comes down to timing, really. Now that the pu'er bubble seems to have burst, I think we will all be reaping the benefits next year especially.

When all's said and done, you really do have to factor in how many sessions a bing produces. For instance, after sampling this bing from Jing; http://www.jingteashop.com/pd_1999_raw_7352.cfm I finally found something to be somewhat reflective of it's price. The storage on this cake was a little too dry, but yet you can see the potential in it. In just probably 5 years this will most likely turn into a fantastic tea, as it's already quite tasty as is. How many of my own cakes that I currently own that I've spent under 50 dollars can I say that about? Personally, none. I guess what I'm saying is time is money. Sample, sample, sample, sample! If it's quantity not quality that you're after, you know that usually you get what you pay for. So in other words, yes you may be able to buy a lot more teas that taste pretty good now, but maybe in a few years they'll start to take a wrong turn in the aging process and disappoint, and you might say to yourself, "I wish I would have purchased that 5 year old bing for 50 dollars when I sampled it because I enjoyed it quite a bit even then".
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Postby tenuki » Oct 15th, '08, 05:10

Another 2 cents...

A good aged shen doesn't really taste at all like a green shen, they are essentially different types of tea entirely IMO. As different as green tea and black actually. ;) So you are asking about apples and oranges. If you love young shen it's not guaranteed that you would even like aged, and visa versa.

Aged wines are a bit different than aged puerh (arguably) - that mostly comes in a rounder, sublter and more complex taste, but it's still very similar to the original product ( well, relative to puerh anyway ). aged puerh is all of that but also very different than green.

BTW - 5 years old isn't aged. I don't start thinking of shen as aged until its over 10 years, more like 20, but that is just me.
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Postby Salsero » Oct 15th, '08, 08:59

tenuki wrote: If you love young sheng it's not guaranteed that you would even like aged, and visa versa.
Well put and another good reason to sample widely among various vintages of puerh.
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Postby tony shlongini » Oct 15th, '08, 09:38

If you know enough about wine to draw such an analogy, then you already know the answer regarding pu'er.

At some point, price is no longer reflective of quality and is determined by market forces. Ch. Petrus and DRC command extraordinary prices because they are not only exemplary wines, but have extremely limited productions. The same can be said of Ferrari- everyone wants one, and there aren't many to go around.

Having said that, don't forget that there's a reason why everyone wants the good stuff- it's good.
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Postby tony shlongini » Oct 15th, '08, 09:43

Salsero wrote:A forum like this, of course, is a great tool in searching for the good stuff and maybe finding some of those great deals where the value is high compared to the price.


Exactly. Knowledge is power, and there's no substitute for valued opinions provided by people you trust.
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Postby gingkoseto » Oct 15th, '08, 10:05

I am not a big fan of puerh :P and my view is somewhat subjective.

Economically speaking, I believe most puerh in market is very much overpriced. Puerh traditionally was a very inexpensive tea because the manufacturing process is by far not as complicated as many other teas. Then puerh got "hot" in recent 10-20 years. It is both fortunate and unfortunate for puerh lovers. Fortunate, because now there are so many great choices and the tea processing is further refined. Unfortunate because of the price and the big mixed pool of good stuff and very generic stuff whose qualities are not proportional to prices. Currently because most puerh have very long shelf life and because puerh is "trendy" in Asia, many tea providers will not worry about demand and therefore will overprice their puerh.

But, a deal is worth it if value (no matter monetary value or enjoyment value) is greater than the monetary price. :D [/i]
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