Tea Drinking Reflections 2016 & 15 Cake Challenge 2017

In what is becoming a yearly tradition, I spent too much and bought too much in 2016.  An extended trip to Asia didn’t help matters. Unlike 2015 I’m actually pretty happy with what I spent money on. Part of this is just having another a year under my belt to both learn about tea and my own preferences. For instance, 85-90% of the pu’erh I bought comes from 2003-2007. This hits the right mark for me of affordability, quality of base material and storage. I’ve avoided buying young pu’erh, a category I tend to not drink much and have bought too much of in the past. I bought a bit less mature pu’erh than 2015, but that’s more because I’ve found it difficult to match some of the traditionally stored pu’erh I found in Hong Kong during my brief trip there in 2015.

Just 15 of these.

Quick Data Points

  • Did not buy any Yancha/high-mountain oolongs/Japanese green teas/Chinese green teas/young sheng.
  • I bought three cakes of ripe pu’erh.
  • ~50% Yiwu, ~%35% Menghai County, ~15% everything else.
  • 85-90% of my purchases fall between 2003-2009. The rest were older.
  • My big splurge was a pair of 2004 Dingji Yeshengs.
  • I didn’t buy much from western vendors this year. This is partially due to traveling for an extended period as well as having a few additional avenues of acquiring tea open up to me.

NOT Hoarding & 15 Cake (357g cakes) Challenge for 2017

One thing I don’t really want to be known as is a collector/hoarder. That’s a problem because I own an awful lot of pu’erh. As a result I will be buying 15 cakes (357g) in 2017 all of which I’ll announce in this spreadsheet. A few of my tea friends that know me well have reacted with deserved laughter at the paltry amount of cakes. Nothing quite like some public shaming to keep me honest.

Another important motivation is life changes. Those that follow the episodes know, I’ve moved recently from an apartment I’d lived in for 5 years into a slightly smaller space with my fiancee. I need to be conscientious of the space that my stuff takes up and keep my hobbies in reasonable control. I consume on average between 5-12g a day and at a certain point buying up tongs is just not a very justifiable or rational expense when you already have a lot of tea.

15 cakes.. With the amount of samples that come in, I probably am drinking through 5-7 of my own cakes a year, meaning I’m still buying at nearly twice the rate I’m consuming. The hammer of yesteryear is out the window and it’s time to be a bit more mindful.


  1. Holding myself accountable (through peer pressure).
  2. Be choosy and hold quality high.
  3. Avoid buying too much.

I’ll be buying in quarterly intervals rather than monthly increments, just to better batch orders together. It comes out to basically 1 cake/month, except when I’m traveling for a few weeks in April.

  • Q1: 3 Cakes.
  • Q2: 6 Cakes. I’ll be traveling back to Asia.
  • Q3: 3 Cakes.
  • Q4: 3 Cakes.
  • If it’s a mini-cake, I guess two counts as one.

Drinking Diary

As a content-producer on tea, I’m constantly overwhelmed by the amount of tea, samples, cakes and around my apartment. Since starting TeaDB my own drinking patterns have been dictated by content creation and these samples. While my own preferences play a part, I drink from my stash and teas I own a lot less than other pu-heads.

For the first time in four or five years, I’m on top of my samples.. The last year, I’ve made tremendous headway on killing off samples by drinking, giving away, and tossing judiciously. As a result, heading into 2017 I have no huge bags of samples I need to drink. Inspired by the speed test and my own curiosity, I’m also undergoing a logging project to see what I actually want to drink now that I’m drinking mainly teas I’ve actually purchased. I’ll be doing a report and you can follow along in this spreadsheet.


4 responses to “Tea Drinking Reflections 2016 & 15 Cake Challenge 2017”

  1. I did laugh. The 3 cakes per quarter got me. 😀 I’m sorry, dear friend and I wish you luck. Thanks for the delightful honesty. 🙂

  2. Can’t think of a better reason to skip out on crazy new year parties than to commiserate with other pu-heads on our tea consumption patterns. 🙂 For me, this year has been focused on quality sheng pu’ers and familiarizing myself with yan chas and liu baos. This will continue into 2017. Thanks for the fun read!

  3. Lol! Glad you’re so virgo-esque in your accounting.
    It makes this site encyclopedic in nature.
    Yet, more informal than academic, which I like.

    I’m always selling tea along with drinking my own stash so as long as there’s hot water, there will be tea to serve 🙂 I hear you about not collecting. I like to give away greener teas before winter. For Puerh, we will drink it or store it away. The fun is finding a forgotten treasure a few years later.

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