Wuyi Oolong Tea Vendors

In line with the trends of the rest of the tea industry online, the amount of roasted oolongs and Yancha (Wuyi Oolongs) being sold online has grown significantly. With increased choices and wild price variations even within the same vendor and tea (1,2) shopping for Yancha is confusing and difficult. The online shoppers reliance on photos (easily faked) make the consumers purchasing decision more about vendor trust and reliability. There is a huge price disparity between daily-drinking and premium Yancha, making it extremely important to look at one’s motivations for buying tea. This can prevent the undesirable situation of spending over a $/gram when all you want is a daily drinker or vice versa! The Wuyi Vendor Guide (modeled after our Taiwanese Vendor Guide) is intended to aid in the search for good-quality Yancha on the internet. This guide disregards any offline options (i.e. Chinese supermarkets).

Wuyi Mountains

Wuyi Mountains. Source: Canton Tea Co.


Daily Drinkers: Ebay and Ex-ebay Vendors

Yunnan Sourcing (link)

Originally an ebay vendor, Yunnan Sourcing is a great place to start for consumers that are already into other types of teas. Yunnan Sourcing is a Chinese-based, vendor specializing in pu’erh (a Yunnan product) but has also branched out to other types of tea. There are two reasons to buy Yancha from Yunnan Sourcing: (1) you are just getting started and want to brew and get clear benchmarks for what Yancha should be, (2) you are looking for good bang for your buck tea/daily drinkers. Because Scott (Yunnan Sourcing’s owner) is so close to the source, he’s able to cut out alot of middlemen and offer most of his tea with a significantly smaller mark-up to the many western alternatives.

It is also important to note that this also means that Scott is not running up the Wuyi cliffs trying to get top-end Yancha (look elsewhere for this). Yunnan Sourcing’s minimum order size is usually 50 grams, with some inexpensive offerings going for 100 grams. Yunnan Sourcing’s Yancha selection is also limited to the most commonly available teas (Da Hong Pao, Shui Xian, Rou Gui). Shipping is an issue (long + expensive) and it’s usually best to put in a huge tea/teaware order or order from their US site.

Dragon Tea House (ebay)

A similar, but different vendor from Yunnan Sourcing. Like Yunnan Sourcing, Dragon Tea House is close to the source (based in China) and features a truly enormous selection spanning across multiple tea genres. The dynamics of payment and shipping are much different. Dragon Tea House offers free shipping on all of their orders. While seemingly a good thing this also means that their markup is significantly higher than Yunnan Sourcing to cover the shipping cost. Dragon Tea House is a better vendor to put in small orders, but not as good for larger orders. Dragon Tea House also focuses on getting premium offerings and has the largest Yancha selection of any vendor mentioned here. Their lineup also features the famous Chinese Yancha brands (Wuyi Star). It is unlikely that they are chasing after the absolute best Wuyi, but offer some of the better commercially available Wuyi. Dragon Tea House minimum purchasing size varies but is usually 50 grams (occasionally 75, 100, 150 grams).

Si Da Ming Cong

Dragon Tea House’s Si Da Ming Cong. Source: Dragon Tea House.


The Middle Chunk

Jing Tea Shop (link)

A much smaller, curated tea shop than Yunnan Sourcing or Dragon Tea House, Jing Tea Shop is a generalist vendor, based in China that is quite tenured in internet years (10 years). Their Yancha selection is quite good, offering a diverse amount of ~9-10 teas. This allows them to cover a bunch of off-brands that can give quite good bang for your buck. Jing’s quality is very good, but not at the same level as the priciest vendors and the result is generally affordable Yancha. They also sell 25 gram sample sizes, with a reasonable $5.95 flat-rate shipping fee. Roasts tend to be average(ish) depending on the individual tea. Jing Tea Shop is also known for having some of the better yixing available to the western world.

Teaspring (link)

Often compared with Jing, Teaspring is also based in China, has a similar sample size (25 grams), and a flat-rate shipping (free for orders >$70). Teaspring’s selection is also very similar to Jing Tea Shop’s spanning across ~9-10 teas.

Teacuppa (link)

Another very similar vendor. Teacuppa also has the distinction of being one of the only vendors to offer all four of the famous bushes. With a Wuyi selection of 9-10 teas usually packaged with a ~15 gram sample size with discounts for higher quantities. It should also be noted that Teacuppa sells different grades/years of some of its teas (Rou Gui/Da Hong Pao) from the same product page (via dropdown menu). Tea ships from China at a flat $8. Teacuppa also offers some tea from the large Chinese Wuyi Oolong producer Wuyi Star.

Jing Tea Shop

Wuyi Teas. Source: Jing Tea Shop.


American Oddities

Life in a Teacup (link)

Life in a Teacup is a bit different from the Jing/Teaspring/Teacuppa trifecta. Based stateside, Life in a Teacup is an online teashop ran by Gingko Seto, an active member of the tea community and the author of popular tea blog, Life in a Teacup Blog. Gingko is originally from China and maintains close ties to the tea community there. Life in a Teacup’s selection is best described as a potpourri of options. Their offerings including several different types of teas, with different years, many aged, various roasting styles, harvesters, etc. Gingko’s notes are good, honest, and 100% necessary to sort through their eclectic selection. Within their Yancha selection, Life in a Teacup’s offerings tend to lean towards the premium end of things ($11-20/oz.). They also offer good, vintage yixing teapots.

  • Steepster Reviews
  • Summed Up: Diverse/interesting lineup, aged selection, very small sample size (~7-25g), various styles, premium(ish) prices, good place to buy an yixing, domestic (US) shipping.

Red Blossom (link)

Another stateside vendor that has a storefront in San Francisco. Red Blossom specializes in all kinds of teas and does a good job with their oolong selection. Prices tend to be a bit high (paying for a storefront in San Francisco is expensive!), but quality is good.

  • Steepster Reviews
  • Summed Up: Small selection, pricy, good quality, domestic (US) shipping.

Seven Cups (link)

A very popular stateside vendor with a storefront in Tucson, Arizona. Seven Cups is known for their high quality Chinese tea, including Yancha. Their Wuyi selection tends to be a bit different from most Yancha sold to the west, featuring a lighter roast than other vendors. They also sell more types of tea than everyone minus Dragon Tea House. Seven Cups do run a bit higher than average yancha prices.

Red Blossom Tea

Yancha. Source: Red Blossom Tea.


The Top-End

Tea Urchin (link)

A tea blogger turned tea vendor, Tea Urchin is a vendor dedicated to hunting down and finding high-end tea. Principally specialized in pu’erh, Tea Urchin’s next most represented tea type is Yancha. With a flat-rate of $20 for international shipping (China) and a large minimum sizes (60-100grams), Tea Urchin is not the easiest vendor to sample from. That being said, this is high-quality stuff and Tea Urchin has a more than solid reputation. All of their Yancha is sourced from a higher-end factory ran by Mr. Yu.

  • Steepster Reviews
  • Summed Up: Medium-sized selection, high-quality premium tea, large minimum size, expensive shipping.

Essence of Tea (link)

UK-based vendor with a primarily pu’erh specialization. A somewhat similar vendor to Tea Urchin, their next most specialized tea type is Yancha. All of their Wuyi oolongs are produced by an old Wuyi tea producer, Master Huang. They sell tea by the gram, allowing you to sample very freely. Be warned, their Yancha has an excellent reputation and is also very expensive!

The Mandarin’s Tea Room (link)

New York-based vendor focused specializing on very premium teas. Quality is consistently top-notch and the curated selection is relatively small. Lots of aged and Zhengyan/Lao Cong stuff here. This is a must-stop for anyone interested in top-end or aged Yancha. Sample sizes are low (5g-25g) making it possible to try a wide variety of their teas!

  • Steepster Reviews
  • Summed Up: Small selection, top-notch tea, high-fired/aged teas, small sample sizes, domestic (US) shipping.

Best Tea House (link)

Best Tea House is an extremely famous tea house in Hong Kong. Their owner (Vesper Chan) is especially famous for popularizing dry storage for raw pu’erh and is the mentor/teacher of many western-facing vendors. They have since expanded to North America to Vancouver British Columbia. Best Tea House also sells Yancha, mainly high-end expensive stuff. With 50-100 gram sizes, shop here if you want to experience high-end stuff that is available to the Asian market.

Best Tea House

Best Tea House Yancha Selection. Source: Best Tea House.


Taobao & The Future

Although the landscape of vendors is constantly changing, most Yancha vendors are more entrenched than their Taiwanese oolong-selling counterparts and will likely be around for a while. One other mode of purchase is through Taobao. This is very tempting because it can help to cut out the middle man (the vendor). However, this is made challenging by both language barrier and the high-amount of forgeries and low-quality tea. As time goes by, this will probably be an increasingly viable medium of purchase, especially for daily drinkers.

The goal is to keep this guide up to date with new vendors and current information. If you are a vendor and think you should be included within this article send us a tweet to @teadb an email at teadborg@gmail.com.

Taobao

Supplemental Reading [Teachat Threads]

Some additional information worth reading that didn’t quite fit into the body of the article.

This entry was posted in Article, Long-form Article, Oolong, Tea Learning, Wuyi Oolong and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Wuyi Oolong Tea Vendors

  1. Peter says:

    These are great article you guys are producing, especially the notes regarding various vendors. It helps me navigate the mighty morass of what’s out there.

    Thanks.

  2. Kelly Kitanson says:

    Teance was called one of the top 10 tea shops in the world by the National Geographic. I hope you get to try their Teance’s Wuyi Cliff Big Red Robe Oolong. Unfortunately, it’s out of stock because they buy small quantities to ensure freshness, so you’ll have to wait until late Spring to get some.

    • James says:

      Hi Kelly, thanks for the comment! Haven’t tasted Teance’s Da Hong Pao but I’ll admit that I’m a bit skeptical towards “top 10 lists” especially by a more general publication like National Geographic. The teas at Teance might be very good quality but it does look to be somewhat overpriced compared with other options.

      Typically traditionally-processed Wuyi oolongs are best consumed a year after the harvest. While there’s some disagreements on the ideal time to consume Yancha, it’s safe to say that the tea should retain its freshness well over a year!

      Cheers,
      -James

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>