Pu’erh as RTS Resource Management

Ripe Pu'erh

According to Youtube’s analytics, TeaDB’s video audience is 87% male, nearly half falling into the 25-34 demographic. Denny and I also fall squarely into the middle of both of these categories. From this data we could theoretically cross market things that “normal people” like.. Movies, cars, fantasy football, etc. However, given our status as nerds, I’m more likely to draw a different conclusion.. That many of you grew up playing a Blizzard RTS.. Starcraft or Warcraft 3.

Note: Our channel is most popular in: US, Canada, Germany, UK, Russia. Most popular states: California, Washington, New York, Florida, Michigan.

Starcraft, Warcraft 3
Blizzard RTS Games. Source: Amazon.

A Bit About Real Time Strategy (RTS)

For those who never played or a refresher for those that … Starcraft/Warcraft 3 are known as real time strategy games (RTS). This genre of games is done in real time (not turns) and is both about economy/resource management/production as well as controlling units. At its most competitive levels, the RTS is nearly always played in a one vs. one format. Because it’s not limited by turns, games tend to be fast (~12-15 minutes) and the best players tend to be very young (players regularly retire in their early 20s) with quick mouse and keyboard dexterity.

One of the most important aspects of RTS games is resource management. There’s usually some sort of resource (minerals and gas in Starcraft) that you need to mine. From there you can choose to reinvest what you’ve mined back into your economy or you can create an army of sorts. Starcraft is especially famous for its complex economy management. Games can be seen as a constant balancing act between expanding, controlling and building your economy, all without being overrun by an opposing army.

How does this economy management normally play out? At the highest levels, players acquire and spend resources quickly. It’s considered an important skill when a player is able to keep their resources from every increasing beyond a certain threshold. The challenge in an RTS is managing these resources, while doing other things (i.e. controlling your army). Hoarding resources without reason or purpose is usually a recipe for disaster. You might be rich, but those resources are better spent serving some sort of purpose.

At lower/more casual levels (i.e. 4v4 comp stomp), players tend to stay in their bases and hoard a giant army of big, scary units. Games move far slower and tend to culminate in a messy blob of a battle. The game will frequently conclude with players perishing, despite having lots of resources.

Mining Resources
Resource Management, one of the essential skills of Starcraft. Source: Learning SC2, Starcraft Wikia.

RTS & Pu’erh (you can’t drink your tea when you’re dead..)

Alright, so what does all this have to do with tea anyhow? You’re way off tangent.. Here’s an important question. What do you refer to your pu’erh pile as? Collection, stash? Do you identify as a drinker or a collector? I suspect most people would prefer to be identified as a drinker, not a collector. Despite this, many of our buying habits more closely resemble someone who is continuously hoarding resources, a collector. There’s even a certain drinker dubbed a kilo a day for the sheer quantity of tea they buy!

We have cakes that we bought years ago and haven’t touched.. Yet when we see a sale, we immediately go on a buying spree. Can’t even stomach opening a tong.. Why not buy a tong + 1? We end up with tons of tea that far outweighs our consumption and a collection of cakes that resembles a stamp collection. Pu’erh especially lends itself to making hoarding/collecting tempting. Why drink up your good stuff, when you can wait and it can become even better?

Similar to an RTS, I believe it’s better to consume our resources (tea in this case) at quicker rates than we do. I think most of us are very bad at managing our resources. The end result? We spend more than we need to and end up consuming worst tea than we need to. Many of us struggle to consume $100, when we spend $200. Sadly for many of us we may actually struggle to consume $20 worth of tea a month, even when we’re spending $200! It’s pretty easy to accumulate a ridiculous amount of tea like this. Many of us also turn to the cheap teas because we can’t stomach the thought of drinking our nicer ones. We may also rationalize all the buying by saying we’ll stop buying once we hit a threshold (if you have the self-discipline to do this, I applaud you).

You might say “But James! Of course I should hold onto my tea. With pu’erh, you’re buying for a lifetime not some stupid 10-15 minute computer game.” There’s obviously some merit in this. But I’d say, you can’t drink your tea when you’re dead… Due to the different timescale, I’m not suggesting that we should buy expensive tea and then brew it all at once. Although it always is an option, but living month to month with tea is probably not as terrible as you might think.. I would wager as Marshaln convincingly does in his Confessions of a Tea Hoarder that many of us have let our favorite teas sit and denied ourselves enjoyment and pleasure. Why don’t we drink better tea? I would argue that a large barrier is simply ourselves and mentally getting ourselves to both buy and consume our good tea. What’s the point in spending $100/month and drinking some mediocre semi-aged tuo? Or buying nice tea, and then holding onto it until we die?

In this case a man passed away sitting on dozens of cakes without ever touching the most prized tea in his possession. A tea that he spent $15,000 on! Something may also go wrong. Maybe you mess up your storage, or maybe the aging doesn’t actually improve the tea. In the end the message is simple, quit hoarding resources and making Battle Cruisers. Drink your damn tea!!

Note: If you’re a collector, that’s fine just go ahead and ignore this section/article..
Note #2: Alright the tea he bought for $15,000 was a fake. It hopefully was a good one!
Random Autobiographical Note: I tackled Warcraft 3 with extreme fanaticism for ~2 years when I was 15-16. It was both a highly stressful and character building experience. I was good enough to get an urban dictionary entry but ended up quitting due to the extreme and unnatural stresses of 15 minute experiences. Denny and I actually did audio commentaries (an early precursor to TeaDB) where we released a separate audio file that the players had to sync with the replay of the game.

Battlecruiser. Source: Starcraft Wikia.

One response to “Pu’erh as RTS Resource Management”

  1. I’ve played some warcraft 2 and age wise I fit in the viewers category but teawise I’m quite a hoarder. I’ve spend quite a bit on puerh cakes but I started buying way more than I can drink. It’s not like I’m going to start a stamp collection of the wrappers or I’m saving them it is some other reason.

    I’ve found out I’m somewhat pressed for time when drinking the tea as I use a 250 ml mug with a black or green tea I can get like 1l or such and change to an other tea but with puerh I can brew 3l. While it is quite cool that I can get that much out of the tea I sometimes get jittery if I drink a few cups than I need to stop a few hours before I can continue. So I mainly drink puerh on the weekends and oolong or other teas during the week.

    There is one tea I’ll definitely go hoarding I bought a piece of a 1 kg brick of Fu Zhuan Hei Cha and it was awesomely good so now I just need to wait a bit for a sale at that webshop. I guess my collection would be even bigger if I lived in the US but for now I just stick to a few Dutch webshops and will perhaps buy a bit from Cha Wang but a possible big shipping cost a still a bit scary for me.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.