Jun 20th, '16, 18:33
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Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by ethan » Jun 20th, '16, 18:33

Since I started looking to buy excellent tea on-line, I have been unsatisfied w/ descriptions of tea. Often there is hardly any listing of flavors & characteristics of the tea; often what is written is terribly different than how the tea is. I often wonder how much attention was given to the work of describing teas.

On the other hand, usually beautiful photographs abound of dry leaves & wet leaves; of teaware filled w/ tea-colored water; & even of tea farms & tea farmers.

I ask, "Do photographs effect your tea-purchasing decisions?"

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Jun 20th, '16, 21:25
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by jayinhk » Jun 20th, '16, 21:25

ethan wrote:Since I started looking to buy excellent tea on-line, I have been unsatisfied w/ descriptions of tea. Often there is hardly any listing of flavors & characteristics of the tea; often what is written is terribly different than how the tea is. I often wonder how much attention was given to the work of describing teas.

On the other hand, usually beautiful photographs abound of dry leaves & wet leaves; of teaware filled w/ tea-colored water; & even of tea farms & tea farmers.

I ask, "Do photographs effect your tea-purchasing decisions?"
Absolutely; it tells you a lot about leaf quality and oxidation/roast levels.

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Jun 21st, '16, 01:03
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by debunix » Jun 21st, '16, 01:03

Interesting question. I think it helps sometimes put a 'buy' decision over the top, but it doesn't generally make me go from 'no interest' to 'buy'. And there aren't a lot of tea merchants I'd buy from without seeing a photo of the tea. It takes some trust to buy by description alone.

Jun 21st, '16, 03:32
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by Bok » Jun 21st, '16, 03:32

I do not buy what I have not tried in person.
But then I am lucky enough not to be dependent on online purchase to get excellent tea :oops:

And even on a physical level – the better the design (packaging, presentation) looks, less the tea is good. Money spent on the surface not on the produce.

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Jun 21st, '16, 08:45
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by Tead Off » Jun 21st, '16, 08:45

Bok wrote:I do not buy what I have not tried in person.
But then I am lucky enough not to be dependent on online purchase to get excellent tea :oops:

And even on a physical level – the better the design (packaging, presentation) looks, less the tea is good. Money spent on the surface not on the produce.
Most people don't live in tea producing countries so they have to rely on either samples or photos + information written by the seller. In either case, it is not a guarantee that you are drinking high quality teas. Even those who buy in person may not have sufficient knowledge and understanding to really know what they are buying. It's not that easy. If you are satisfied with just what you buy in person, how will you know that an online vendor in your vicinity doesn't have better tea than what you are getting without trying?

In Japan, there are many tea sellers with brick and mortar shops, high end, too. None compare with some of the online sellers that I've gotten tea from.

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Jun 21st, '16, 08:51
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by jayinhk » Jun 21st, '16, 08:51

I may have just returned from Yunnan, but I placed two orders for pu erh. One while there and one when I got home. I couldn't get the price/quality ratio I wanted on certain teas there, and definitely not here, so online was the way to go. Five 2009 Dayi Lao Cha Tou bricks and some chawangshop exclusives I couldn't get anywhere else but online.

Jun 22nd, '16, 02:13
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by Bok » Jun 22nd, '16, 02:13

Tead Off wrote: Most people don't live in tea producing countries so they have to rely on either samples or photos + information written by the seller. In either case, it is not a guarantee that you are drinking high quality teas. Even those who buy in person may not have sufficient knowledge and understanding to really know what they are buying. It's not that easy. If you are satisfied with just what you buy in person, how will you know that an online vendor in your vicinity doesn't have better tea than what you are getting without trying?
You are right, not as simple!

For me personally, it is rather simple economics.
Most online sellers of Taiwanese tea are Western facing, prices are accordingly. Does not make sense for me to pay the quadruple or more of what I would pay if bought in Taiwan.

Teas from other regions would then qualify for online purchase, but then again I can spend more money to buy better tea locally. So I’d rather spend more where I am and pass on the curiosity to try different flavours… lucky me the teas I like best are all grown in this tiny amazing tea island :)

Jun 22nd, '16, 12:19
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by ethan » Jun 22nd, '16, 12:19

debunix wrote:Interesting question. I think it helps sometimes put a 'buy' decision over the top, but it doesn't generally make me go from 'no interest' to 'buy'. And there aren't a lot of tea merchants I'd buy from without seeing a photo of the tea. It takes some trust to buy by description alone.
Seems like the photographs may instill confidence words cannot do alone. "Sounds like good ...., looks like good...; so, it probably is good....."

I hope to go to Taiwan once or twice more in my life & that I can buy in large enough quantity to make it worthwhile for those selling to me to be extremely patient for prolonged tastings which are conducted as they like to conduct tastings & also allow me to get tastes as I want (infusions from a variety of teaware; made from a variety of temperatures; etc.). For that, I would need others to buy some of the tea, but I don't want to take photographs.

My most serious tasting was a routine of a round of drinking tea during which I noted which teas were excitedly excellent followed by a break for a walk & snack or meal. I'd return to taste the chosen teas. Then I would make my choices from them. (Once in Piglin I also sampled again a tea that I had found not noteworthy. Somehow it occurred to me that at 1/4 the price, that particular donfang meiren (oriental beauty) was a great value. Actually, when I was in the mood for it, I enjoyed that tea as much as the higher class one.)

W/ that much work, & a fairly well-educated palate, etc. I hope photographs are not necessary. I fear that they are.

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Jun 26th, '16, 05:45
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by Drax » Jun 26th, '16, 05:45

For me, I find that photographs help me to identify teas that I do not want to buy -- for example, if the leaves look incorrect (badly broken and such)

Unfortunately, a tea can look great (even in person), but its true quality does not come through until you brew it. So again, my experience is that photographs can help, but only in a limited fashion.

Jun 26th, '16, 10:50
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by ethan » Jun 26th, '16, 10:50

Drax wrote:For me, I find that photographs help me to identify teas that I do not want to buy -- for example, if the leaves look incorrect (badly broken and such)

Unfortunately, a tea can look great (even in person), but its true quality does not come through until you brew it. So again, my experience is that photographs can help, but only in a limited fashion.
That is interesting. A vendor might be selling an excellent tea that does not look very good & lose a sale because of photographs. There is tea that I drink almost daily that does not look as good as some other teas that don't taste as good as it does. Teachatters buy this from me. This is the Himalayan Orange (HOR). I don't remember what Jun Chiyabari says about how it is harvested in relation to machines or totally by hand. (I do remember that it is organic & that workers live in clean, adequate housing, eat well, get good education for their children etc).

How will information effect sales? "Properly paid workers," can mean that the producer/seller of the tea is good & reliable; or, it can be an excuse for high prices. I saw some aged oolong for sale. The vendor has had only 2 units of that tea available & they have been available for a long time. There are also positive reviews from years back. I ask myself, why those reviewers did not snap up the last few ounces of that tea? (W/o the info, I would have completed the sale already.)

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Jun 26th, '16, 18:13
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by Drax » Jun 26th, '16, 18:13

For teas that are much better than their appearance, I rely on either word-of-mouth, the vendor's description (usually only if I trust or know the vendor's tastes), or samples. Of course, then I suppose I really rely on these things more than photographs in general, anyway. :wink:

I can recall at least one site, however, that took poor pictures of their tea in general -- it was hard to tell what condition the tea was really in... that was certainly not good.

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Jun 26th, '16, 20:42
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by jayinhk » Jun 26th, '16, 20:42

It's pretty much an expectation that pictures are included when selling online. I believe not having pictures would hurt demand for sure, but a good description and info on the tea concerned are more important. You are pretty much expected to have both!

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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by Bok » Jun 26th, '16, 22:50

I agree, online shops need pictures.
But better no pictures than bad pictures.

The pictures can tell a lot how professional/commercial the shop is.
You can count on that the better the overall look is the more that production cost is going to be put on top of the price of the tea.

All that no garantuee whatsoever how good the tea is going to be.
Same for the marketing-talk. Single-bush, old tree, organic handcrafted, charcoal roasted, hand-selected by tea expert – whatever – words, words, words…

What helps me most is recommendations from people I know have a good palate.

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Jun 26th, '16, 23:54
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by jayinhk » Jun 26th, '16, 23:54

Right, there are people will tell you anything to sell you tea, or have simply been mislead. I can't tell you how often I heard the term 'gushu' in Kunming...the test of the quality is in the cup and how the tea makes you feel.

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Jul 1st, '16, 23:46
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Re: Do photographs help you decide which teas to buy?

by NateHevens » Jul 1st, '16, 23:46

As great as pictures are, they can also be misleading (see: Teavana). I make my decisions on a lot of different factors, pictures included.

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