Leafhopper said

If you had US$250 to spend on Taiwanese blacks and oolongs, where would you go?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while—perhaps too much.

I’m planning ahead for some strategic buying of the Taiwanese oolongs and blacks of spring 2018 and winter 2019 over the next three months. I have up to $130 US as a Christmas gift, and might, if I’m lucky, be able to contribute US$120 of my own money. (Have I told you I’m now a broke freelancer?)

I also want around 400-500 g of Taiwanese oolongs and blacks from these orders to get me through until summer 2019. This means 3-4 bulk daily drinkers in 75 g packages, a few reasonably good teas, and a couple that I hope will be phenomenal. I’m mainly interested in high mountain oolongs, bug-bitten teas (though Bai Hao might be out), and the occasional Dong Ding. I get a couple black teas for variety.

I’ve been looking at some vendors and here are my thoughts. Needless to say, I won’t be able to patronize them all. :(

Tillerman: $90 (or less, if I buy samples)
Shipping to Canada: Free
Pros: Good reviews of high mountain teas, curated collection, some fruity oolongs, sample sizes
Cons: I want the Li Shan and the Organic Chingjing Spring 2018, which would severely restrict my budget. I’d also like to get some samples.
Thoughts: I’d love to try this vendor, and while 12.5 g samples wouldn’t get me close to my goal, I’m tempted to check them out.

Taiwan Sourcing: $110
Free shipping to Canada over $100
Pros: tea from unusual locations, different processing methods, beautiful poetic names, good curation, have liked their jade oolongs in the past. Sometimes have 12% off sales on Black Friday.
Cons: Ouch, some of these teas are expensive! While many have been worth the price, some haven’t. However, their 75 g bags enable me to get orders of 250-300 grams for around $110.

Floating Leaves: $110
Shipping to Canada: US$10, no threshold
Pros: Glorious high mountain teas, Dong Dings, and Baozhongs, as I discovered in a sampler pack a couple years ago. Also, reasonably priced Bai Hao and rare Li Shan Tie Guan Yin. Their Black Friday discount allows me to order at this pricepoint.
Cons: Very traditional selection, still can’t get a lot of tea for that price.

Taiwan Tea Crafts: $60
Free shipping: $60
Pros: Teas are generally good, esp. SLX oolongs and Dong Dings, can often get winter 2019 oolongs early. Sometimes there are sales.
Cons: Worry that teas aren’t as high-end. I also haven’t had any of their Four Seasons or other lower-priced selections.

TeaMasters: $100?
Shipping free over $100, $7.5 below that.
Pros: Good curation, low prices for many teas, lots of variety.
Cons: Prices here are either cheap and cheerful or astronomical, so probably couldn’t afford many high-mountain offerings. But I could get a bunch of presumably well-selected middle-grade teas. (Buying one of their teapots is a dream that must be deferred indefinitely.)

Eco-Cha: $90 for three months in their tea club (or $160 for six); two or three “Reserve” teas paid for separately
Pros: I loved being in the Eco-Cha Tea Club, but it got expensive quickly. Except for the baked teas, I’ve enjoyed everything they’ve sent, and over time, it adds up to a lot of tea.
Cons: Over budget. If I bought the reserve teas separately with my own funds, I’d hardly be able to afford anything else. Also, am not as fond of their regular jade oolongs. Finally, it seems like cheating if I only enter the club to get the reserve teas.

Other vendors and suggestions are welcome, and I’m definitely willing to swap!

TL:DR: I have champagne tastes on a beer budget. Any help would be appreciated!

6 Replies

You want to do a Skype call one day? I can walk you through this.

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Leafhopper said

Thanks, that would be appreciated! Should I PM you for your contact info?

Yeah that’s fine. We can set a time up

That’s fine. We can set some time up

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meowster said

Can you update us with your final selection?

I’d be interested to see which vendors you end up using.

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Leafhopper said

Sure! I probably won’t be ordering until the beginning of December, but I’ll definitely let you know.

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