The Price of Menghai Tea Factory Recipes: Taobao & Other Purchasing Options

Menghai Tea Factory. The gold standard of ripe pu’erh and the producer of famous benchmark raw pu’erhs from the 1980s and 1990s. If you purchase legitimate Menghai, it is usually thought of as a safe buy. Dayi has the reach to make these recipes consistent year to year and while there is a higher price associated with the brand, you are paying for a reliable tea factory with a proven track record (Dayi tea is also liquid). This article examines a number of different routes available to purchase young Dayi plantation recipes. One advantage to purchasing pu’erh, especially classic recipes like these is the ability to research the price compared with the Chinese market price (Taobao).

Menghai Pu'erh

Welcome to Menghai. Source: Taobao.

Not All Prices are Created Equal & Shipping Concepts

Generally speaking the more difficult and the more pricy shipping is, the lower the price of tea should be. Buying multiple tongs of pu’erh in the most efficient way requires thorough research and will usually involve the most expensive, longest shipping option possible. In the case of pu’erh that will usually be via Taobao (the Chinese Ebay).

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are vendors like Dragon Tea House and Berylleb who offer “free shipping”. Free shipping makes the purchase really simple, but of course shipping isn’t really ever free. These vendors aren’t well-suited for big, bulky orders but are good if you want to purchase a small amount of tea from a reliable source (sorta). Other vendors like Yunnan Sourcing, Cha Wang Shop, and JK Teashop fall somewhere in between “free shipping” vendors and Taobao. Generally speaking, western facing vendors are better for reliably purchasing these recipes older than a few years old. In these cases, there are less reviews to tell the sketchy Taobao vendors from the good ones and storage starts to become a very important issue.

Note #1: Cha Wang Shop wasn’t included in this comparison because they don’t sell Menghai tea!
Note #2: Vendors on Taobao will naturally have lower prices, whereas vendors offering “free shipping” will have higher prices.
Note #3: It is no secret that many vendors buy their tea from Taobao. For those that like to cut out the middleman, buying straight from Taobao is especially appealing.
Note #4: All data is compiled regardless of batch, i.e. 701 vs. 702 vs. 703.

7542 (raw)

 Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2014 158 $25.28
2013 132 $21.12
2012 168 $26.88 $59.99
2011 145 $23.20 $33.00

The king of kings. Thanks to a number of famous aged examples of this recipe, i.e. 88 Qing Beeng, this is considered the gold standard of plantation tea. 7542 is easily the most expensive plantation recipe, with plenty of speculation. Because of this popularity, the Dayi premium is only exacerbated . Most western vendors don’t seem to stock newer 7542. This likely indicates that most vendors believe 7542 is overpriced!

8582 (raw)

Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2013 68 $10.88
2012 75 $12.00 $21.00 $26.99 $27.99
2011 64 $10.24 $23.00 $35.99 $18.59 $29.99
2010 75 $12.00 $28.49

Far more affordable than 7542. The prices on Taobao for 8582 are less than half of 7542. Western-facing vendors also seem less afraid to carry this. The western vendors seem to mark it up to ~twice the cost of buying straight from Taobao.

7572 (ripe)

Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2013 115 $18.40 $30.99
2012 105 $16.80 $24.00 $20.00 $24.99
2011 86 $13.76 $26.49 $14.30
2010 88 $14.08 $25.00 $25.49 $21.45 $26.99

The ripe equivalent of 7542. While prices aren’t quite as high as 7542 they are consistently higher than other ripe recipes from the same years. The average western vendor markup is hovers around 50%.

7262 (ripe)

Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2012 75 $12.00 $24.99 $24.99
2011 70 $11.20 $25.00 $27.99 $29.99
2010 92 $14.72 $30.99 $32.99

Priced at ~$12/beeng for new cakes. The markup is similar to the 7572, with a higher western vendor markup (~100%).

8592 (ripe)

Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2012 80 $12.80 $19.00 $19.49 $29.99
2011 70 $11.20 $22.99 $24.99
2010 68 $10.88 $21.50 $22.49 $22.99

Very similar pricing to the 7262 in terms of average price and markup.

Hong Yun (ripe, 100g)

Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2013 21 $3.36
2012 21 $3.36
2010 25 $4.00 $12.00 $9.99 $8.58

A higher grade (smaller leaf) pu’erh to contrast vs. the classic recipes. An interesting tea to examine because it comes in 100 gram quantities. Due to the smaller size the vendor markup here is higher (to account for shipping). If you like Hong Yun, it is a good target to buy in bulk from Taobao!

Note: Some theory about middle-men vendors. Small quantities and free shipping = high vendor markup, compared with higher quantities and expensive shipping = lower vendor markup.

Golden Needle White Lotus (ripe)

Year Price (yuan) Price ($) YS Price DTH Price JK Teashop Price Berylleb Price
2013 154 $24.64 $64.99
2012 225 $36.00 $61.00 $55.99 $52.00 $79.99
2010 330 $52.80 $70.00

Somewhat of a step away from plantation tea in terms of pricing. The markup for the Golden Needle White Lotus really varies vendor to vendor, hovering anywhere from 30-150%.

Takeaways

  • Within the first few years, there’s not a whole ton of price variation between the same recipes (2011 7572 vs. 2012 7572 vs. 2013 7572). In many instances the newer tea will actually be more expensive.
  • Western vendor markups generally are around 100% for most of these recipes. For a single cake it is not really worth it to purchase from Taobao. Things change if you switch to tongs.
  • As the teas get older, be more discerning of Taobao and seller reputation. You are at their mercy for the condition and storage of the beeng.
  • Impulse purchases are not cost-effective and generally recommended against, but “free shipping” vendors can be OK in this instance.
  • If you do buy from Taobao, research agents and the individual sellers well.

Shah8 had a couple great suggestions in the comments suggestion, that I’ve decided to include in the body of the post. If you know what tea you want in quantity, especially if it is an older tea where storage becomes an issue ask a trustworthy vendor based in China (Yunnan Sourcing, White2Tea, etc.) to pick it up for you. Dayi is widely available in China and vendors know who the trustworthy sources are at the tea market! A site I was previously unfamiliar with Donghe Tea is a good price tracking tool, complete with some pretty cool graphs to look at tea trends.

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