Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

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


Aug 18th, '17, 11:14
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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Bok » Aug 18th, '17, 11:14

chrl42 wrote:
My point is there are complicated issues and matters that make China not quite same as Japan/Korea...it's quite common to see rich young Chinese hanging around in fancy tea rooms, discussing about LBZ, Yixing, Indian red woods or kyara...you could say high-class, but not minority.
For sure, but - percentage wise the rich are a minority in China, just with a very large population that is still probably a larger number of serious tea drinkers than the West combined.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou areas are not necessarily representative for the country as a whole. But you said it, China is complicated and a lot more diverse than other tea-consuming societies.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by chrl42 » Aug 18th, '17, 17:15

Bok wrote:
chrl42 wrote:
My point is there are complicated issues and matters that make China not quite same as Japan/Korea...it's quite common to see rich young Chinese hanging around in fancy tea rooms, discussing about LBZ, Yixing, Indian red woods or kyara...you could say high-class, but not minority.
For sure, but - percentage wise the rich are a minority in China, just with a very large population that is still probably a larger number of serious tea drinkers than the West combined.

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou areas are not necessarily representative for the country as a whole. But you said it, China is complicated and a lot more diverse than other tea-consuming societies.
Maybe it's a point of view that's different..I don't know why I don't agree to see that tea drinking in China to be a minority act...meanwhile I've led my entire life as a minority :mrgreen:

You said Shanghainese only drink LJs...old Shanghaiese maybe...but these days folks drink Puerh as much as they drink LJ..it's just this decade that Puerh drinkers enormously increased in mainland..before that only Taiwanese and HKers drank Puerh though

Go to Yixing, it's all young people around wirh their fancy cars driven with, and it's more common to see Chinese holding a cup of tea, than a cup of coffee out there..even in Shanghai...hottest beverage business for now is Yi Dian Dian, COCO..a bubble tea business, not Starbucks or COSTA

There is an old image of tea drinking in Korea and Japan (or Taiwan maybe?), out of fashion, never got that feeling in China..you said high-class as sort of minority, which is right..but the difference is the former leads a trend, the latter doesn't. It's like a wine, very few people understand wine but you couldn't say wine is out of fashion.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Aya » Aug 19th, '17, 01:04

chrl42 wrote:
Bok wrote:
chrl42 wrote:
There is an old image of tea drinking in Korea and Japan (or Taiwan maybe?), out of fashion, never got that feeling in China..you said high-class as sort of minority, which is right..but the difference is the former leads a trend, the latter doesn't. It's like a wine, very few people understand wine but you couldn't say wine is out of fashion.
Well, as you said, coffee quite took over Japan. Many office workers in Tokyo business area purchase a cup of coffee at Starbucks on the way to the office, and people consider it fashionable to enjoy coffee break at Starbucks.

However, tea is not dying at all. Fore sure, brewing loose leaf sencha with kyusu at home is getting less and less common (but I'm quite sure most of the households- not singles - have at least 1 kyusu), but black tea e.g. Darjeeling, Assam etc. are still very popular. Enjoying afternoon tea at a fancy tea room, having pot of tea with some cake at kissaten/cafe or purchasing flavored tea at Lupicia for gifts is still considered "fashionable" for young women. I know many professional women fall in love with kimono and start learning tea ceremony to justify purchasing and wearing so so expensive silk kimono :P
Puerh is somewhat different. It's considered healthy drink to burn fat and loose weight for most of Japanese, while only minority collect aged tea cakes and really appreciate its mellow and rich flavor.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by PandaBrewTea » Aug 19th, '17, 22:27

Aya wrote:
chrl42 wrote:
Bok wrote:
chrl42 wrote:
There is an old image of tea drinking in Korea and Japan (or Taiwan maybe?), out of fashion, never got that feeling in China..you said high-class as sort of minority, which is right..but the difference is the former leads a trend, the latter doesn't. It's like a wine, very few people understand wine but you couldn't say wine is out of fashion.
Well, as you said, coffee quite took over Japan. Many office workers in Tokyo business area purchase a cup of coffee at Starbucks on the way to the office, and people consider it fashionable to enjoy coffee break at Starbucks.

However, tea is not dying at all. Fore sure, brewing loose leaf sencha with kyusu at home is getting less and less common (but I'm quite sure most of the households- not singles - have at least 1 kyusu), but black tea e.g. Darjeeling, Assam etc. are still very popular. Enjoying afternoon tea at a fancy tea room, having pot of tea with some cake at kissaten/cafe or purchasing flavored tea at Lupicia for gifts is still considered "fashionable" for young women. I know many professional women fall in love with kimono and start learning tea ceremony to justify purchasing and wearing so so expensive silk kimono :P
Puerh is somewhat different. It's considered healthy drink to burn fat and loose weight for most of Japanese, while only minority collect aged tea cakes and really appreciate its mellow and rich flavor.
That is interesting! I never thought about it from a Japanese perspective. Maybe it can catch on as a health beverage in Japan or even in the West!

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Teasenz » Aug 20th, '17, 06:26

Bok wrote: Never for the mainstream. Too much of an acquired taste. Prices for good quality are also inhibitive for the majority. And Chinese are willing to pay much more for these teas, than foreigners.
You can find very decent pu erh tea for an affordable price though. Especially given a 5g chunk of pu erh can last multiple steeps, it's in fact quite cheap. Not every needs to start directly with famous pu erh from these well-known mountains right away.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Teasenz » Aug 20th, '17, 06:28

dizzo wrote: We are a coffee culture.
Teavana, the only thing we have for a mainstream tea franchise, is closing all its locations. There are coffee houses here where when you walk out the front door, you will see another coffee house across the street.
Tea in general doesnt look like it will catch on here.
Im torn on how to feel about this. Im not sure id like to see what Americans would do to the industry.
I think tea should be more compared to wine than coffee. These days you see more people talk about 'tea food pairings'. I see tea more entering the scene through medium to high end restaurants offering tea as an alternative to wine, rather than tea.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by dizzo » Aug 20th, '17, 11:02

Teasenz wrote:
dizzo wrote: We are a coffee culture.
Teavana, the only thing we have for a mainstream tea franchise, is closing all its locations. There are coffee houses here where when you walk out the front door, you will see another coffee house across the street.
Tea in general doesnt look like it will catch on here.
Im torn on how to feel about this. Im not sure id like to see what Americans would do to the industry.
I think tea should be more compared to wine than coffee. These days you see more people talk about 'tea food pairings'. I see tea more entering the scene through medium to high end restaurants offering tea as an alternative to wine, rather than tea.
if you have found a place in the west like this, I assure you, it is a special. Perhaps even unique

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by LouPepe » Aug 20th, '17, 12:36

The issue is the lack of comprehension in the west about what tea is and could be. People know that wine is made from grapes and that there are expensive wines specifically because of terroir, grape quality, and great fermentation techniques. People are aware that certain coffees are better also due to terroir, organic farming, good soil etc., but many still don't even know that "tea" is strictly camellia sinensis plant. There's this universal term that describes any spice, leaf, root that is steeped, which in turn confuses, bewilders, and polarizes those who steep something that is called "tea" and have something truly underwhelming (including the mass/cheap true camellia teas in the market).

So puerh in general has a lot more hurdles in the west to gain a spotlight remotely similar to specialty coffee or trendy wine. Alternatively, would it COULD and is doing is attracting those who geek out on things. Like craft beer, as analogy I would compare the tart, funky lambics of Belgium which almost saw an extinction in the 70's-90's due to lack of interest with locals let alone beer consumers in other countries. But then the craft beer boom happened, the Shelton bros imported lambics to the US, a microscopic niche was born which turned into a small one. Now some of these lambic beers sell out instantly when made available! People stalk websites and stores. There is a secondary market for these beers with some selling at easily 20-40 times that of the original price, while a few rarities have sold for 100-500x . In turn these lambics created such a big demand that now US based breweries (and other world brewery's) are brewing up their own sour beers in masses, and selling them at wine prices all the while people are buying those up. And IMO the majority of these beers are not as good.

So you see, lambics is just a needle in a haystack in beer just as puerh is a needle in a haystack in tea. Yet, small but powerful market forces can change the whole outlook and economics of such small things. In addition, and unfortunately, tea growers can't just plant puerh plants in local tea gardens and expect to have a comparable product.

I dread for such things to happen to puerh, and hope with all my might that it doesn't catch on in the west. As people age and become more health conscious, they will turn away or moderate alcohol consumption and seek healthier things to consume. Think sushi 20 years ago in the US compared to now. People are much more adventurous nowadays and have expanded their palates. Add some expendable income and beware.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Hezo541 » Aug 20th, '17, 23:13

It will. And that will be a good thing.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by theredbaron » Aug 20th, '17, 23:36

chrl42 wrote:
I don't think so, the demand for LBZ, Da Hong Pao and such teas is quite crazy here...go to Beijing Maliandao, Guangzhou Fangcun..you will see there are over a thousand tea shops here and there..how can you call that 'a minority'? :roll: I've felt only a minorilty myself while living in America and Korea as a tea drinker...never got that feeling in China, at all.

Coffee doesn't replace tea in China..young Chinese still think a cup of Starbucks to be darn pricey....but my co-workers know how to spend $$ for 50g of DHP (some think DHP is a black tea.. :mrgreen: )

My point is there are complicated issues and matters that make China not quite same as Japan/Korea...it's quite common to see rich young Chinese hanging around in fancy tea rooms, discussing about LBZ, Yixing, Indian red woods or kyara...you could say high-class, but not minority.

In absolute numbers of course the amount of serious tea drinkers in China is huge, and has been massively increasing over the past 20 or so years, especially also connected to the increase in wealth.
However, in percentage of the population it still remains a minority. The army of factory workers and others that make the majority of the population has neither the time nor the money (and often not the education either) to afford the luxury of seriously pursuing tea, and will drink tea just as a beverage.
I haven't been in China for many years, but i believe, that still - outside the more wealthy urbanite classes - localism is still dominating tea drinking habits (as has been mentioned already) - eastern China green tea, south-east semi-fermented teas, etc.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by bagua7 » Sep 2nd, '17, 20:00

It can't be:

1. No wisdom
2. It's a Taoist, Buddhist & Confucianist thing
3. Legacy from Ancient China
4. A form of meditation (drinking Chinese tea in general)

The West doesn't care about these. :)

Sep 2nd, '17, 20:47
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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Bok » Sep 2nd, '17, 20:47

bagua7 wrote: It can't be:

1. No wisdom
2. It's a Taoist, Buddhist & Confucianist thing
3. Legacy from Ancient China
4. A form of meditation (drinking Chinese tea in general)

The West doesn't care about these. :)
Let's not overcomplicate things... you can of course interprete all sorts of things into your tea, but in the end you are just drinking tea.

Apart from that, a lot of Westerners care exactly about those things you mentioned, sometimes being more anal about it than the Chinese themselves! Just recently saw someone comment on a Taiwanese potters picture that a traditional teaset has 5 cups - I mean, what the... correcting Asians themselves about their own culture?!

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by victoria3 » Sep 3rd, '17, 11:40

Bok wrote:
bagua7 wrote: It can't be:

1. No wisdom
2. It's a Taoist, Buddhist & Confucianist thing
3. Legacy from Ancient China
4. A form of meditation (drinking Chinese tea in general)

The West doesn't care about these. :)
Let's not overcomplicate things... you can of course interprete all sorts of things into your tea, but in the end you are just drinking tea.

Apart from that, a lot of Westerners care exactly about those things you mentioned, sometimes being more anal about it than the Chinese themselves! Just recently saw someone comment on a Taiwanese potters picture that a traditional teaset has 5 cups - I mean, what the... correcting Asians themselves about their own culture?!
Haha I'd have to agree :D Recently, I asked a high volume vendor in Los Angeles about pu'erh sales here and he replied that Yunnan Sourcing sells huge quantities to the US, that they pretty much have that market tied up.

p.s. 5 cups is Japanese, 3 cups Chinese, so is 5 cups Taiwanese ? mmm

Sep 3rd, '17, 20:21
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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by Bok » Sep 3rd, '17, 20:21

victoria3 wrote:
Haha I'd have to agree :D Recently, I asked a high volume vendor in Los Angeles about pu'erh sales here and he replied that Yunnan Sourcing sells huge quantities to the US, that they pretty much have that market tied up.

p.s. 5 cups is Japanese, 3 cups Chinese, so is 5 cups Taiwanese ? mmm
Guess that answers the question then for the US! In Europe it will be more fragmented due to a less homogeneous market, but all in all probably similar, maybe a slightly larger volume.

As for cups... no such thing as a 100% rule. Some use chaozhou style(3), some use 5. Most people just use as many as there are people drinking tea, which really is the only polite and civilised way isn't it? ;)

People drink tea here on a daily basis as part of their lives, those ritualised ceremonies are for not for daily life and most people can't be bothered. Those are for religious practises, a certain lifestyle or just plain showing off and to distinguish themselves from others. Same thing really as for most rituals.

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Re: Do You Think Puerh Tea Will Catch On In The West?

by philiplee » Oct 20th, '17, 10:06

There's plenty of people who enjoy sitting down with friends with a nice drink. This applies to the west as well as the east. The difference is which drink they choose to sit down with and that all comes down to either marketing or education (or better a combination of the two). Despite mostly being imported, products such as wines, whiskies, coffee and even bubble tea have been able to establish themselves as common products in many countries. Although, there is plenty to be said about the mainstream quality of the latter items there...

Pu-heads need to share their love for Puer tea, share great teas, share interesting stories, and post about Puer. Influencers and early adopters are necessary for the market to continue growing. With product variety in Puer, there's also a need to focus on education products like what a great tea should taste like. I mean, how many people get started on a bad ripe Puer and then stay away? Imagine if everyone had their first experience of Puer with a properly brewed high-quality Yiwu, shared with people who truly appreciate the depth of the tea? I don't know anyone who can't appreciate a real Yiwu - none of that taidi or blended stuff (*cough*self-promotion alert*cough*)

Anyway, to re-summarize, Puer is great so it's more than likely with any reasonable support, the Western markets will adopt Puer tea as part of any decent tea education. Anyone with somewhat refined tastebuds would naturally end up loving it. :D

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