Top 3 Reasons to Think Before Buying from Shops that Don't Direct-Source
With so many tea companies popping up nowadays, I bet you are wondering how to pick who to get your tea from. We encourage you to keep sampling teas and asking questions. In effort to answer one question, we have put together a helpful list below.
3 reasons to think before buying from shops that don’t direct-source
1. Same Tea but sold under many different names.
In shops across the west, there are hundreds if not thousands of different teas available. However, unbeknownst to many consumers, many of these teas are in fact the same tea. There are only a few large Puer wholesalers and it’s very likely that a shop that is selling a particular tea with their logo on it and another shop across the country selling a tea with their logo on is, in fact, the same tea. Why is this bad or why does it matter? Without standardization much is lost. We may be paying more for a tea that is worth less and/or being sold a tea that is stripped of its true information. We lose the connections and we lose its purity.
2. When purchasing tea from a major distributor there is no relationship and there is no story.
One ends up purchasing from a large business as opposed to a family or a village. You’re not supporting the farmers, you are not supporting the producers, you’re supporting a group of middleman or a company involved in major business without full transparency. Why does this matter? When less money is given to those producing our teas, the producers give less care to our teas being produced, sometimes because of economical reasons. There are many wholesalers who fly to Kunming, the Capitol of Yunnan, and simply connect with Chinese wholesalers who are dealing with hundreds, or thousands, of different teas/mountains/producers, then selecting a few of their teas, paying the duty, paying the tax, shaking hands with men who likely have never lived a day on the tea farm, then flying back to their country. Is this wrong or is this bad business? No, but you are losing a very important piece of the puzzle of tea. Of course, many businesses are in fact ran this way. However, tea is a commodity unlike any other. It is a plant that gives us life; it is a tree that gives us so much and has for thousands of years. It is an elixir that is poured for strangers, for lovers, for friends.
In so many cultures of the Far East, there is no written language. In these cultures all they have is the spoken language and all they have is their story. Once we get involved with major business, we lose their story. Some teas are so poor that all they have going for them is a decent taste. Tea is capable of so much more than just taste. Sit with a fantastic tea that carries a culture and a history and a story, and something new will come to your teacup.
3. When we lose sight of where our teas are coming from, there is no longer any accountability.
When a Tea is given a cute name instead of the actual description of the geographical location of that tea, there are a lot of smoke and mirrors and it’s taking it one step further away from being real tea. Real tea must be produced in the area specific to that tea and it must also be unblended and prepared in a way specific to that tea. Once we eliminate the producer, the location, and the harvest time, we eliminate what’s most important about the tea and replace it with a clever name that may make it easy to sell but strips it up it’s true identity. Once this occurs, blending and a lot of miss information can take place.
We appreciate you following along and helping us ask these tough questions so that we can all enjoy better teas. You are part of a continuing demand for great teas and direct-trade commodities. As we ask questions and learn more about what we are drinking, we are putting the major companies in a position to answer our call with better teas and a better connection to our producers and farmers.
At Misty Peak Teas, we made it simple. We deal with ONE FAMILY. ONE FARM. ONE TEA.
I only wish you sold ripe puerh. I do love your sheng puerh though.
Hey Allan. Ripe from this mountain would be too costly. Until the Western market catches up with the Chinese market and sees the true value of tea, there is no reason to yet.
Bellmont. Great point and great question.
It is funny that some of the greatest teas in the world, and many of the teas we drink, are from China; yet, if we put “Made In China” on a teabox it would most likely decrease sales.
It is through education that people in Paris may drink California wine. It is through education that people in China now drink Starbucks. And it can be through education that we open up our minds to the foods and benefits of another’s culture.
Great point Bellmont. I hope we all continue to grow and make the world a smaller, while keeping it a diverse, place.
While I agree that direct-sourced tea is ideal, I would like to kindly point out that a company that does not direct-source does not automatically cloud their accountability and transparency. Many small companies care greatly about the quality and integrity of their products and will go to great lengths to ensure that they are creating a business that is helpful to all parties involved. While direct sourcing is great, the majority of that market is created by the smaller companies that are getting more people interested in tea and helping them along their journey. I think that by comparing small companies with true integrity to huge retailers focused on monetary gain, we are stunting the potential growth of the industry as a whole.
It is true that many larger retailers are not trustworthy and the entire industry is full of money-hungry cons. I think it’s up to the retailers with true passion for tea itself to spread knowledge to the tea drinkers. Many of us are working very very hard to source responsibly and to truly benefit the tea industry.
In summary: I believe that there are many ways to work towards an industry that is honest and trustworthy, and direct-sourcing is not the only right way.
I got this post as an email from Misty Peaks mailing list. I read it through a few times to try and figure which puerh or tea retailers exactly fit this profile. The shared wholesalers and relabeled tea are realities many of us have figured out. However, many retailers selling pasted brands also do direct sourcing and press their own tea. The truth is, maocha is limited, and getting more expensive. A year-round business means choices on what products to offer when custom teas sell out, which they eventually do.