Buying internationally: How do you decide? US / China / Europe - would you buy from these counties?

Just been reading many of the threads in Steepster and it is interesting to see how a number of China based sites are getting quite popular now. It seems that recommendations are key in building this trust/reputation.

In the past, buying from China and having product shipped from China seem to be a turn off to many in EU / US, except some die-hards. Do you think this has changed? Would you buy direct from China?

What encourages or turns you off about buying direct from China?

If you wanted to buy a product and you could get it from China, Europe or USA what factors would you consider in making your decision?

Wish everyone all the best.

5 Replies

I live in Colorado USA, and buy 90% of my tea direct from China.

I agree that a key factor is trust, I have no plans to order from Ebay or the Chinese version of ebay. However, I get most of my tea from sites like Yunnan Sourcing, White2tea, and Bitterleaf tea that are based in China so they can source tea right from the heart of the production area while being run by a person I can and have messaged.

With epacket and EMS shipping is less of a concern now than ever before. I routinely get packages from China in a week, and even if I cheap out and pay for the slow boat shipping it is under two months. However, if I need tea RIGHT NOW this is an issue, and I can turn to amazing vendors in the USA like Crimson Lotus Tea, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, or USA Yunnan Sourcing.

Buying product from China can be cheaper. I have never ordered from YS’s US site, because it always works out to be less money to get tea shipped from China. This is not always the case, though.

Living in Europe seems to be a nightmare importing from China, at least from what I have Read in posts from a few Germans… pesticide testing, and import fees… no thank you.

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@snielson222 thanks for such a comprehensive reply. Very interesting.

From your reply, connectivity is important, from a communications point of view and also from the shop’s locality.

What is it especially about White2tea and Bitterleaf tea that appeals so much?

YS is one of the most comprehensive Western focused sites and certainly one of the most well established.

Have a great day, and thanks again for taking the time to reply.

As Dr Jim said it seems that the vendors prefer a certain variation of styles in their tea. I really like the tastes of W2T and Bitterleaf, because I have a similar palette to what they make. I drink a lot of young sheng and really like honey/fruit/floral notes which come out more in the tea I buy from those vendors. I’m also a sucker for artwork and packaging, which those two vendors do VERY well in my opinion.

I think it also helps in ordering from China, to first have a large collection of tea. This allows me to plan ahead and not be anxiously waiting for shipping with no tea to drink.

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Dr Jim said

The US vendors I use are generalists; I can buy a wide range of teas in a single order. As I’ve gotten more specific about what I like, I find I can get better selection and price from going closer to the source (primarily puerh from Yunnan and Darjeeling from India). I generally want to see a certain amount of activity (reviews, etc.) before buying from a source, but I’ve had great luck in direct purchases. I know a lot of people buy from ebay, Taobao, etc., but I generally stay away from those vendors. I like to see a bit of history.

Re the specific vendor, even within a category like TGY or Darjeeling or puerh there is a lot of variation. Certain vendors prefer a certain type, and I look for vendors whose style agrees with mine. You mention W2T and Bitterleaf, and they are good, but my favorite style is closer to that of Tea Urchin. I don’t necessarily think their tea is better than that of the other vendors. It does, however, match my taste.

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mrmopar said

I get tea from China and Malaysia pretty regularly. I get tea from the ones mentioned and above as well as Chawangshop.
We do have some good vendors stateside. A couple of good ones mentioned and I will add Mandala to some of the ones above. I have bought from some European ones as well.
I like to buy close to the source when I can. Vendors that actually visit, watch the processing and know the areas are the ones I stick with. I think it is as much about similar taste profiles as well as good product. I do buy from eBay and from TaoBao but I am very picky from where to buy on those two sites.I do gamble sometimes on auctions but more often than not they aren’t the best choice. Those that garner and earn my trust usually have a lifelong customer.

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