Bok wrote: And even if one lives in Taiwan, most farmers have a price for Taiwanese and another for anyone else asking...
I think it is safe to assume that Western-facing or -run shops will always be at least double the price of what u pay in Taiwan. Then you have Taipei which is on average triple of what the rest of the country pays for tea.
In the end it is a business...
Good prices need connections and some luck
its more sophisticated.. especially when 2/3s of the tea in taiwan is all imported, leaving below 1/3, or approximately 30% being domestically produced.
i'm still all for the direct farmer to consumer interaction model for most teas, except the very very high end ones which will need a middleman with appropriate taste buds (i.e. hojo etc) to qualify them.
currently backing our direct consumer to farmer initiative's a strong group of new generation tea farmers, all in their 30s or so, having taken over their family plantations and all motivated to do things the traditional/right way, knowing that it will be many times more tedious, and the margins are not going to be as significant. we have superb farmers for lishan, shanlinxi, alishan tea, baihao oolong/dongfang meiren, but i'm going very very slow with this, because I still need to assess the consistency of the quality of teas from each of them and their honesty. and will need another half a year or 1 year of underground validation before some of these direct to farmer initiatives can be established for them. Chen was one of the first candidates that passed my tests and revalidations several times over. we're also digging into various other tea origins in china now but that's a lot more disappointing