Budgetary Committee: What My Tea Budget Actually Looked Like

I spent too much money in 2015. Emmett’s group orders and the Asia trip being the large culprits of pushing me from a little over to wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy over.. I’ve compiled some data from purchases from 2015 and without divulging exact teas and $ amounts, here’s some data that is ambiguous enough to save me embarrassment.. This includes all cakes purchased that weren’t intended as sample cakes. 30 different cakes (all raw) in total with 67 different cakes..

  • Perhaps the budgetary committees only area for minor celebration is the lack of teaware purchases. I successfully cut myself off after Origin Tea shut down and have spent virtually nothing since June 2014. Of course… This can partially be attributed to my poor choice of aesthetics and the willingness to cover my eyes in teashops in Taiwan.
# Teas Total # Cakes # Cakes/Tea # Teas That I am Drinking Regularly
Young (2011-Present) 11 18 1.64 2
Semi-Aged (2005-2010) 13 39 3.00 11
Older than Semi-Aged 6 10 1.67 6
30 67 2.23 19

After I got back from Hong Kong and Taiwan with the expectedly large amount of teas. I did a big tea inventory and rearrangement.. I also didn’t enter into any of my organized tastings for a bit, allowing the natural cravings/order of things to tell me what to drink. As I have suspected for a while, I rarely crave young pu’erh and nearly always prefer somewhat older teas. Someone who subscribes to traditional Chinese medicine would probably attribute this to to being very yin. I rarely sweat, am often cold, and things like alcohol reduce me to a shivering mess.

The fourth column indicates teas that I’ve put into relatively easy access for me to drink regularly. There’s ~30 teas I have easy access to, meaning the majority of these were purchased in 2015. The other teas are mainly stashed back further in my pumidor. I principally purchase and drink in that middle range of 7-10 year old tea. This is the sweet spot for me. There’s less easily available options but if you dig, there’s some appealing stuff to be found for favorable $/g.

  • What about those other 10ish teas that you drink? What are they? They’re generally less exciting and are mainly cheap, daily teas that I bought in 2014. Think XG Happy Tuo.

In what qualifies as an overbuy, I also purchased a fair amount of young cakes (11 teas, 18 total cakes). Those have mainly ended up in storage (more on this in the reflections).. There’s only two I have designated for drinking (the 2015 Little Walk and 2014 Daqing Gushu). The purpose of these cakes is similar to my oolongs that I have laying around.. To satiate random cravings and to serve to guests as an example of a young tea. I also have far too many young pu samples for variety that mainly lay around that I can always drink..

A couple tidbits.

  • The two semi-aged pu’erhs stashed away. The 2005 CGHT Menghai Yesheng and 2005 Mushucha. I wouldn’t mind drinking either tea, but I’d prefer to drink them in a few years and am definitely in nothing resembling a tea shortage.
  • I bought all of my pre-2005 pu’erh in Taiwan + Hong Kong. Other than the HK Style (purchased in 2014) and a couple pu’erhs from Origin, all my older tea is pretty much all from there..

Vendor Breakdown

Vendor # Teas
Yunnan Sourcing 5
White2Tea 4
Houde 4
Emmett 4
Tea Urchin 3
Taobao 2
Fine Pu’er 2
Misc Vendors (Asia) 6
Region Breakdown
Region # Teas
Mengla 14
Menghai 9
Lincang 3
Pu’er 3
Undetermined/Blend 1
Whelp. There it is. As expected I have a strong bias towards Xishuangbanna (75% of the teas) and greater Yiwu area/Mengla County teas (46.7% of the teas). This is absolutely no surprise to me or anyone who follows TeaDB regularly. It also closely resembles what I drink regularly.


Now.. What am I looking for? Well I think it begins with what I’d drink… This involves some guesswork and what I like to drink now may not be what I like to drink in the future. That being said, after close to 2 years of diving into pu’erh I think I at least have an educated guess at where my own drinking lays.

Disregard the above at your own accord.

  1. I generally prefer tea with age..
  2. I have a bias towards Yiwu teas.
  3. I have a suspicion that tea in Seattle will age slowly.

Given all the above and the fact more than enough young teas seem to find me, without deliberately seeking them out, I’ve decided that there’s not much of a reason for me to shop in the young tea market. I’d simply rather buy older new school productions. 

I’m also probably still being too cheap in my purchasing decisions.. Drawing the line on what is too expensive or not is a challenge and while I haven’t exactly cheaped out on $0.02/g tuos, I’m still buying tea far faster than my own consumption rate. Storage space also isn’t abundant in my modestly sized Seattle apartment. Next year I’ll be looking to buy less, but better quality stuff. This is a goal of mine that I’ve improved at but could do better at..

Here’s to 2016 and hopefully being under budget (I made it more realistic, aka bigger ;))!

Giant Taobao Box
Giant Taobao Box.

2 responses to “Budgetary Committee: What My Tea Budget Actually Looked Like”

  1. I “plan” to have better budget this year too, though I don’t think I spent close to you 2015 record. Look at the bright sight, I am optimistic that your odd this year is good vs 2015.

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