Five things I Like & Dislike COVID19 Edition…

Five things I like & dislike COVID19 Edition…

Very Slow International Shipping

The most obvious thing and a clear dislike. We now have all kinds of time at home for tea. But unfortunately international shipping, especially from China, has grinded to a halt. I ordered tea in March from China via EMS (typically 1 week) and got it in July.

The shipping situation is already having a pretty powerful impact on the tea scene and it is unclear if the old shipping situation will ever come back and what the new status quo will be. There are murmurings of shipping price hikes. Slower, more expensive shipping is not a win for anyone.

Shipping

Life Changes & Breaking the Status Quo

COVID 19 has been a status quo breaker for most everyone’s daily lives and the other three things listed could be subcategories under this. Breaking the status quo for some means more time for tea. It could be an opportunity to polish off samples and drink down stuff. Or a chance to really dive deep into a sort of tea or tea in general (provided you’re not waiting for shipping). Unfortunately for some it also means less money or less time to devote to the hobby.

One friend I drink tea with regularly for years had a one tea per day routine. Ever since we met, I’ve always consumed more tea than him. Now, forced to work from home I asked him what he’s drinking and he’s been regularly drinking 3 teas per day, far more than myself! Counterintuitively, I have actually gone the other way and had less time to think and drink about tea. Some have noted that my articles have become more sporadic. Part of this is due to a move that took up a lot of time, but also my status quo shifting in a way that I’m drinking less tea.

Getting Extra Jazzed on Tea via Zoom Tea Session

One thing I’ve seen is people getting together for a tea session on zoom. In some cases, people are even able to drink the same teas simultaneously. One side effect to this is because the tea isn’t getting split into smaller cups in most cases people are getting extra caffeinated. For instance, when I drink virtual tea with Garrett the minimum size I’ll use is still 5g/75ml. When we’re together I may use a slightly larger device 6.5g/100ml or something. But if we end up drinking 3 teas in both sessions, the end result is overall significantly more caffeine consumed in the zoom session. Is this good? Well I suppose it depends. For me, I still haven’t gotten used to it and I’d certainly prefer morning virtual group sessions rather than late ones.

Zoom

Lack of In-Person Tea

Denny and I haven’t been able to get together for tea until very recently, which has resulted in a longer lapse in videos since we began. We’re finally getting back together and frankly speaking I miss it.. Drinking tea socially is a lot of fun for me and I wished I could do it more often before the pandemic. Now with the COVID situation forcing everyone back into extreme tea hermit status, I’m back to pretty much just solo tea drinking and virtual tea sessions which I like less.

The Future of Online Tea

I’m not going to pretend like I know what will happen here or make precise predictions. There’s a ton of uncertainty here and a really wide range of outcomes. I’m not very optimistic about how great the tea scene will be at least in the next couple years. While some vendors are based in China or Taiwan whose only obvious major setback is longer shipping times, and can more or less continue as is. But many also have regular sourcing trips built into their model that are compromised for at least the next year. Even just being able to get samples quickly from China to try is no longer easy. I’d anticipate at least some vendors calling it quits and the more resilient ones changing up their models somewhat. I’m also not sure if things like tea of the month club will be as popular as they were in 2017-2019. Will prices come down? Hard to say, I suppose it is possible.

Even more unknown is where this ends up settling long-term. There are a lot of unknowns globally in the next few years, and with an international product like ours that involves I don’t think anyone knows where the industry will end up.

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5 Responses to Five things I Like & Dislike COVID19 Edition…

  1. Shipping has generally returned to normal. A lot of parcels from China to the US between mid-March and mid-May are still stuck in a backlog in Shanghai, but parcels posted after that are generally arriving in 2-3 weeks.

    For us, apart from having a lot of parcels still stuck in the post from these months, one main issue is not being able to travel back to Malaysia to restock Liubao from our warehouse there. The borders are still closed and much of our Liubao stock is sold out here in China. It doesn’t look as if they’re going to open any time this year.

    On the other side, as a vendor, people here in China began selling stock earlier in the year that they wouldn’t normally have been so keen to get rid of. The shutdown put financial pressure on people that normally wouldn’t have been there. There were also less buyers in the tea mountains this spring, which meant that there was tea available which would have been more difficult to get in previous years.

    Although the circumstances are far from ideal, many of our customers have mentioned enjoying (mandated) time at home, where they’ve been digging out old cakes and samples and exploring their tea collection in greater detail. For those who’s financial situation has become a bit more precarious, it’s been time to drink up some of their stash.

  2. Nate the snake says:

    I’ve been getting DHL shipments from Bangkok and Kunming in like 4 days…

  3. Nathanael says:

    I have some tea stuck in Shanghai (ordered in mid April) that I still haven’t gotten, but they were mostly samples and the vendors were very understanding and helpful and gave me full refunds, with the expectation that if they ever arrive I would repay for them minus shipping. With the exception of something from Wistaria and White2Tea, I’ve just been ordering domestically.

    I started to get serious about my tea drinking in mid to late February, so I have not known anything other than solo or hermit drinking. That’s when I discovered you and Denny, read MarshalN’s blog, etc. I also had a baby at the end of last year, so it seems like my tea experience so far (way more grandpa style–or maybe new parent style would be more accurate) has been very unusual compared to most other people pre-COVID.

    Watching your videos is one way for me to get out of my normal eremitic state, so thank you for continuing to record and post.

  4. jimmy says:

    i reccomend discord for video chatting. higher quality video/audio than zoom, and much easier to use. it’s pretty much a better skype.

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