Aug 1st, '17, 03:12
Posts: 709
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by Bok » Aug 1st, '17, 03:12

The recent spamming activity of certain Chinese teashops got me thinking why would they even need to bother intruding the forum?

With a humungous population, if you get even 1% percent or lower of them to buy your tea, you do not need foreign customers.

If you have premium tea, you have the most affluent people in the world who are willing to pay much more than anyone in the West for their tea. China’s rich will suffice for the little harvest that present the top teas.

Which leaves me to think that only if you have really crappy to lower medium tea you might still feel the need to look out for foreigners as they might be ignorant enough to pay a much higher price than Chinese would do.

I am not talking about foreigners operating out of China, that is a different story. Most of them will not be able to (or targeting in the first place) Chinese customers.

I am also not talking about tea from Taiwan as the whole situation and market is a different one.

Anyways, just some musings…

User avatar
Aug 1st, '17, 05:36
Posts: 1751
Joined: Jul 8th, '09, 23:39
Location: Maui

Re: Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by tingjunkie » Aug 1st, '17, 05:36

You raise some good points, but I think you missed Chinese vendors now living in the West. For them, they either serve Chinese expat populations, or they just prefer to target their new home soil.

As for Chinese-run shops based in China, I can see how selling to the West could be lucrative even if your tea is of excellent quality (not TOP quality, but still excellent). In China, tea shops are a dime a dozen. It's very hard to stand out and get noticed. If you are one of the small handful of China based tea shops with an English language website, you're in fairly select company.

That being said, I do remember friends of mine from Taiwan who had a tea shop in Queens, NY who lamented the fact that Americans bought their tea 50-100g at a time, where in Taiwan more people buy kilos at a time. I can see how it's hard to stay afloat here, if it's your primary income.

Aug 1st, '17, 10:12
Posts: 709
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Re: Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by Bok » Aug 1st, '17, 10:12

tingjunkie wrote: That being said, I do remember friends of mine from Taiwan who had a tea shop in Queens, NY who lamented the fact that Americans bought their tea 50-100g at a time, where in Taiwan more people buy kilos at a time. I can see how it's hard to stay afloat here, if it's your primary income.
That is true, here I have never seen anyone buying less than a tai jin(600g) of any tea. Half a Jin at the least but only if you buy more if other teas. It's almost impolite to buy such small amounts. I wouldn't do it as I'd lose all my good credit with the shop, haha

Good point also about the Chinese owners in the west.

User avatar
Aug 1st, '17, 11:41
Posts: 73
Joined: Mar 13th, '17, 16:17
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by dizzo » Aug 1st, '17, 11:41

Interesting.
All of my purchases have been online. I have never bought more than 200 grams of one particular tea at a time, although an order will usually be in that several hundred gram range. usually its 50-100g of 5-8 different teas. I would have never guessed it to be a taboo to purchase these smaller amounts.
Being in the west is tough. Its is difficult to really be a part of tea culture. If it wasnt for teachat, I would be going to teavanna and guessing at online tea stores :lol: We arent brought up around tea. Tea has a mystique about it in the west. There is not a single person I know that I can talk about dong ding with, that doesnt start giggling. A vendor from China that can put a competent site together that makes it simple for a westerner to order tea from the source is something I see doing well.
That said, Teachat is not going to be the most productive use of their advertising effort, being that most westerners on this site have gone beyond getting their feet wet.

Aug 1st, '17, 17:11
Posts: 115
Joined: Dec 1st, '10, 22:53
Location: CA

Re: Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by Zared » Aug 1st, '17, 17:11

Number one reason for Americans buying less is that they're is no tea culture here. We generally don't sit around drinking tea with friends often and those that do are largely teabag/English style.

Other reasons for buying less at brick and mortar teashops is that we're stuck paying western prices for tea that is probably significantly cheaper in Asia . Also less options to choose from. Most don't offer discounts for larger purchases so not much incentive to do so. I suspect part of the reason they sell smaller amounts is also to encourage people to come back more often. If you quickly blow through 50g of tea you really like your more likely to go back and buy more even if if you still have other teas from them. That's less likely to happen if you buy 600g of one kind. Most people aren't gonna return if they haven't made a dent in that bag yet.

Buying online is a totally different story. Not being able try tea before purchase means few people are willing to fork over the money for large blind purchases even when the tea is cheaper than physical stores. I generally avoid buying w/o sampling unless I'm pretty certain it's worth the risk which isn't very often. So what ends up happening is lots of samples and maybe one larger item that I've previously tried.

None of these things are of issue for most people living in places like HK, TW and China. So it makes sense why they make larger purchases there.

Aug 1st, '17, 21:33
Posts: 709
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Re: Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by Bok » Aug 1st, '17, 21:33

Very true.
Zared wrote: Other reasons for buying less at brick and mortar teashops is that we're stuck paying western prices for tea that is probably significantly cheaper in Asia . Also less options to choose from. Most don't offer discounts for larger purchases so not much incentive to do so.
Large quantity for a teashop would probably go into the kilos. So those prices are for wholesale transactions only. Some of my teafriends here group together to go to the farmer and get a good offer. Also the only way to cut out the middleman, farmers won’t sell small quantities to you if someone else takes the whole batch… if they do it is their leftovers :mrgreen:

And yes, you can probably take of less than half of what you pay in the West at least. Only fair though, Western products cost a lot more in Asia as well, even if they are made in China. Taxes, cost of import, storage etc. – economics!

Zared wrote: None of these things are of issue for most people living in places like HK, TW and China. So it makes sense why they make larger purchases there.
I was going to add that. In Taiwan the way you buy tea is that you go and sample in the shop until you decide on a few. Again it is impolite to sample dozens and only buy a few. It is about relationship building. Gradually they know you and offer you what they think you might like. You get offered better and better tea. The more you buy, the more liberties you have :mrgreen:

Normally, you sample some and then the business is expected to be concluded. Understandable, as sampling takes time and depending on the shop size you take up time that can serve others. Even just 3-5 teas will already take a few hours, including chit-chat etc.

People also share their tea and give it away often. Giving away means at least a quarter jin, 150g, anything less would be embarassing. Unless it is something really really expensive, but even then you’d rather give nothing than a small amount. Only counts for Taiwan as really good tea is still significantly cheaper than China (goes back to aforementioned market situation of very wealthy top end and overall low amount of top tea).

Aug 2nd, '17, 03:17
Vendor Member
Posts: 1307
Joined: May 27th, '12, 12:47
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Thoughts about western facing Chinese teashops

by ethan » Aug 2nd, '17, 03:17

[quote=Bok post_id=296592 time=1501637623 user_id=41116. In Taiwan the way you buy tea is that you go and sample in the shop until you decide on a few. Again it is impolite to sample dozens and only buy a few. It is about relationship building. Gradually they know you and offer you what they think you might like. You get offered better and better tea. The more you buy, the more liberties you have.
[/quote]
Your comments led to me think about how much time I spend at the shop of Dr. Chen,. I'm there for about 12 hours over several days to buy about 2 kilograms of tea. I see many of the customers there spend about 15 minutes to buy 600 to 1200 grams of tea with no sampling. Many do drink a couple of rounds of whatever tea is being drunk by others while their tea is being packed. My next visit I plan on buying larger quantities of any tea that is really fantastic. I am convinced that really special teas are a phenomena, that is, something that one can rely on finding again.

+ Post Reply