Liquid Proust Teas 2018 Master Thread

2017 Thread https://steepster.com/discuss/15603-liquid-proust-2017-master-thread-goodbye-blends-last-sale

I want to first thank anyone who has helped me in my journey over the last few years as a tea drinker, a group buy organizer, a tea blender, and now whatever I am… The whole mission of Liquid Proust Teas is to build community through shared experiences. As I continue down my own tea journey, my focus has changed a lot over time to now pretty much puerh due to the nature of the drinker and material’s relationship; this actually goes more hand in hand with Proust’s ideas revolving around identity and life as an analogy with tea than what I had done before. So as I am community driven, but not to forget educational purposes as well, I wanted to keep the same transparency and offer a place where we can all put me up to the challenges as was done in the past!

So here’s some numbers to throw out before I write some more:
2017
45,246 shop views; 17.9% directed social media, 15% from Google, 4.7% through Steepster,
281 orders
$11,432 .65 in sales; $3,950 from the 2018 Sheng Olympiad
Passed 3,000 IG followers
First Reddit post with over 1,000 points (https://www.reddit.com/r/tea/comments/6xhrgv/my_friend_says_if_i_get_more_i_will_look_like_a/)
97% delivery rate with orders; 1 didn’t show up out of the 281
11.2% average gross profit margin; and all of that goes into more tea!
What other numbers should I add in here?

Going Forward
I have plans to provide more educational sets as well as continuing the search for rare aged teas and the boutique cakes. There is a plan in place to offer samples of the entire Yang Qing Hao lineup within the next few years. I will continue to offer more Vesper Chan, Xi Zi Hao, Chen Yuan Hao, and others as time goes on unless a clear source comes out for acquiring samples and/or full cakes of these harder to get ahold of products. I have also talked with Cloud’s Tea Collection who has said they welcome my offer to spread their product line in the USA market place; this is still being worked out. I am taking every step carefully because to some, what I do might interrupt their cash flow and that is not my intention. For example: With Vesper Chan’s products, people can simply go to Bana Tea but I have asked if I had permission from Bana Tea in which they said they appreciated me coming to them first but also said they have no problem with it. Continuing to have ethical business practice is just as important as being honest.
So I must ask, what is everyone interested in? What has been hard to obtain that you want to try? It’s quite possible that another vendor could benefit from your answer as well because it may not be something I will do; such as offering full aged cakes because it would cause me to drift from what I’m doing.

Challenges
1.Understanding the viewpoint that I am a ‘vendor’ myself and where I can/should participate as well as what I can or cannot say due to having a business myself.
2. Keeping the same level of energy.
3. Gap in working capital. As my inventory turn isn’t low enough, I am facing an issue with cash flow. I am still evaluating if I should promote or continue the word of mouth and social media as my two avenues as business volume increases.
4. This year I am getting married and working on my MBA, thus: Time.
5. Things unknown.

So Why Post This?
First, I am not stupid: I know I have some haters. The reason I post information such as this and ask for help publicly is because Steepster is how I got to where I am at today. Without the people on here, I would have never gotten to the point of having any group buys or even retrying teas I hated at first such as puerh. As time goes on, people have invested time and resources in what I do; most of which are on Steepster. I find a strength in being vulnerable and open to the community you want to help grow. Is there an odd dynamic because I also sell to those I call friends? Absolutely, but I hope everyone has found a warm welcome from my interactions as well as respect from the get go.

Shout out to everyone who has taken the time to add whatever offerings I’ve had on my site here on Steepster. That being said, I can tell you all that any vendor is happy to see that someone took time to do that. As many of you know, most tea vendors have their tea business as a secondary source of income so time is rather limited so adding products on Steepster is low on the priority log.

Questions are encouraged and invited.

Without you all there wouldn’t be a story. Thank you for being a part of it whether you were someone who just read, been with me for years or just as of today, bought from me or not, conversed about me or talked to me directly, posted reviews, or encouraged the work that I have been doing with Liquid Proust Teas. I am looking forward to what comes out of 2018.

Andrew Richardson / Liquid Proust
p.s. the site is now www.liquidproust.com

17 Replies
meowster said

For working cashflow, I really liked the concept of sponsor boxes that went with the sheng olympiad. Perhaps offer that regularly? I like the idea of kind of getting curated boxes in exchange for money :P

As a side note, I’m interested in seeing the original websites and webpages (in Chinese) of future products. It would both help me learn and potentially allow me to provide more info for the community as well.

Thanks for all the great work so far!

Ken said

Agreed, send me tea, I send money..works for me!

I can certainly work on this! It’s going to be incredibly hard with about anything I do though, just being upfront.

For example: Xi Zi Hao’s product page, as far as I know, offers no detail. I have a 2014 10th Anniversary Yiwu cake coming from them but all I could use is http://www.sanhetang.com.tw/product.aspx?productid=234
If I went to a shop’s page more information could be gathered, but then I have to put a disclaimer that the shop could have incorrect information. In this case, it would offer no more value (https://weidian.com/item.html?itemID=1084254917&pc=2&spider_token=24e7&spider=seller.itemdetail.head.1&hd_back=1)
There would also be a lot more to be said that can contribute to price as well as storage in regards to the acquisition. The site last referenced for example is not located in Taiwan… I believe they are in Guangdong… don’t quote me on that.

So in the case that I look for information and come up empty handed should I then post that as a conclusion? Factory cakes will take a lot for me to figure out how to link information as to something such as the 2006 Golden Needle White Lotus and it’s history as to why it’s a well known ripe recipe.

Going to need some help brainstorming : )
Maybe we can work together to address the information gap!

As far as the sponsor boxes… how do you feel about the whole ‘not knowing’ before you get it? Has that gone well with my selections?

mrmopar said

I agree on the money for tea. It works well for me and knowing it helps others an even better deal. I can help somewhat with the factory stuff if need be on information.

Thanks for the replies! Knowing that a few are interested, I was able to commit to a rather pricey tea acquisition that is commonly thought to be impossible to purchase… but knowing that the sponsor boxes were enjoyed both times I’ve done them, I’ll make this next round of sponsor boxes even better!

Ken said

Looking forward to it

Last year the box was $150, but if I were to include full cakes of some hard to get a hold of stuff… and at a steal for those who do it, would $200 to $250 be pushing my luck with finding 10 people that’ll buy the sponsor packages?

Well I’m definitely interested.

mrmopar said

Possibly, although an insight on the hard to get stuff would be nice as well.

I will put a list out when time gets closer… but one of the things I acquired that will build some interest is legit Mansong; every sponsor will get one or two sessions depending on final numbers

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Arby said

I’m quite interested in yellow teas and aged oolongs. I do like the idea of a curated box. I kind of like the mystery, but I also want to know what sorts (even something vague like “aged oolong, heavily roasted” or “tie guan yin with a twist”. I like fun shapes (pearls, balls, mushroom shape, etc) and unusual teas/processing methods.

Question for you, everyone has a different answer: How many years does it take before an oolong is considered aged or rested?
This has been one of the issues I’ve been running into. My 2014 Yancha has rested well enough now due to the roast level not being as high as some others, but sometimes I encounter a dong ding that is 5 years old but doesn’t have much more to offer than one roasted just last year.

Fun shapes, they pressed puer hearts pieces for valentines day; once again.

Arby said

I don;t know what is considered aged. I’ve only had a few aged oolongs. I really enjoyed What-cha’s Taiwan 2003 Aged Green Heart Oolong Tea and an aged Dong ding (I can’t remember the company) that I tried a few years back. I’m still exploring the category. I’d say probably 5+ years would be considered aged.

Thanks for the reply. I think this help give me direction. So far I have tried aged oolongs from more than a handful of people trying to get me to represent their tea… I haven’t brought on a single one yet because none of them are something I’d stand behind to be an enjoyable and worthwhile session. Lots of aged oolong are reroasted to an extreme level or stored poorly which stinks because it makes the hunt much harder.

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Update 1
I probably move too quickly with all of this… but I already put together two sets that I have been requested to put together. One of something easy for about anyone to get a hold of being the 2006 and 2012 Spring of Dayi sampler set; to make sure this is a solid set I obtained batch one of each which was the tricky part, but still not hard. The second set I put together recently was the fake vs real set for a Xiaguan production. Many are curious about these so I went with the 2003 Teji and let me tell you… that cake will never be less than $100 and yet so many places sell them at almost $30.

I also have a two of the same Dayi ripe production that was stored differently for 9 years which should help provide a bit of understanding regarding preference for ripe storage.

I also have some huangpian from XiZiHao that was stored in Taiwan which I find to be quite unique for many reasons, looking forward to thoughts on it as well.

Always open for suggestions and request for whatever else I put together!

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Minor suggestion: Ripe mini tuo mixes? All the fun variety of sample packs with none of the mess. Plus a much better beenghole/tea ratio.

For the kind of stuff I am interested in I don’t believe that’ll be possible… between the boutique (xizihao, chenyuanhao, yangqinghao) and the aged stuff will generally be cakes that I will break up for people to try as they are not easy to obtain (2003 red stamp 7542, 2003 Teji Xiaguan, 1999 CNNP 8582).

If I find older mini tuos that pass my taste and experience test I will try to bring them on though

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