Scratch Awl as pu-erh pick?

When I can’t easily find a specialty item (like a pu-erh pick) I often enjoy substituting an item I am familiar with and can easily find to use in it’s place. Still, in this case it took me awhile searching online, but I finally found what I was picturing could work as a pu-erh cake pick: it’s called a scratch awl. And here they are on Amazon:

Some of the prices aren’t too bad, and I bet they would work about as good as a tool designed to pick at pu-erh

Anyway, after all of that searching I though I would share it in case anyone else is interested.

20 Replies
weegeebee1 said

Funny you should post this. I literally just yesterday received the 4 inch tekton awl (the one with a wooden handle) from amazon for these purposes.

I’m going to try it out tomorrow at work because I have my shou puer cake airing out there on my cabinet.

At first impression, the model I got might have a little too much girth. But then again, I don’t have a point of reference because I don’t have an official puer pick. Not sure if all awls are standardized in diameter. It cost me $4 as an add on item, so I was willing to give it a shot. Probably will work best on 357g cakes, maybe not so good with smaller cakes/bricks.

How funny! Serendipitous!? Your notes and concerns regarding the awls girth makes sense to me. I’d be interested to hear how well that awl works on your cake.

If it works, perhaps you can write a review for it on Amazon. Then, wouldn’t that be interesting, to see how many people would find your review ‘helpful’?

weegeebee1 said

I think what I got is fine. If it’s a super thin cake or brick, maybe not so good, but I think for the standard size it’s going to work out great.

Also, if anybody goes down this route. When I ordered the 4" one I though that might be too short. It’s plenty long. In fact, I think if you can find one in the 2.5 to 3" range, it’ll be perfect.

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AJ said

Huh. It seems almost cheaper just to buy a pu-erh knife off of ebay. They go for $4-$8, and 9/10 of them have free shipping (or they’re something like $2 with $6 shipping to equal $8 total anyways). At least they’re a bit thinner than the awls (my favourite is the sandalwood pick with the matching cap, though there’s also a curved dart knife with a sheath).

I just use my pocket knife, since it’s slender enough. I’d like to buy one if ever my pu-erh collection expands enough that I can convince myself I need one.

AJ: How funny, for some reason I never thought to do a search on eBay or Amazon for ‘pu-erh knife’. Like, DUH?!

Here are the results on eBay:

And this one is only $5 with free shipping. Impressive.

On Amazon, by searching for ‘tea pick’ and tea knife’ this is the only pick I found (their inventory is clearly organized online very differently than on eBay)—Free-Shipping/dp/B00E7I2NZQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1401728370&sr=1-1&keywords=tea+pick
And this is the only tea knife

Although almost the exact same pick is cheaper on Amazon, eBay certainly outshines Amazon in terms of selection, here.

AJ said

Hahah, yes. It doesn’t help that ebay likes to forcefully change your search parameters without asking. If you try to search “puehr pick” with no hyphen, it changes it to “purple pillow” for me. I have to use google to search ebay /for/ me.

I know ebay is popular with a number of teashops, who operate more on ebay than on their own domains (if they have them), and generally receive good reviews, like Dragon Tea House (and SAWA, which has since shut down I believe, and I know Gingko from Life in Teacup has tea listings on ebay as well). I’ve never gotten actual tea through ebay (I usually just end up ordering through their domain instead), but I always eye the knickknacks (you can get cheap clay tea pets, and pu-ehr cake-breaking trays).

I think I remember seeing Dragon Tea House on eBay, but I’ll have to check them out again.

How weird what eBay’s search engine does with the word ‘puerh’. Funny though, what you wrote about using Google, as I also find that using it to search for something on a particular website is often better then using the websites own search function.

I bought mine off Mandala – happy to pay a bit more than ebay because I’d get the pu’er pick faster as they are US based and Mandala Tea is awesome. With that said, shipping time should also be factored in. I’ve ordered from some sellers in China and shipping is quoted at like 70 days.

mrmopar said

What are Ginko’s listings on Ebay? I think I would shop that store.

Awkward Soul: Good point about the importance of shipping time. I’ve seen the outer limits on shipping times from China to the States as high as 70 days as well. The thing is, I’ve never had any shipment take anywhere near that long; and generally speaking, if I have to pay for shipping, I choose the cheapest option (sometimes, second cheapest). I have made 20+ orders from China through Taobao agents and from shops like Teavivre, Jing Tea Shop, and Yunnan Sourcing to name most of them, and I think the longest I’ve ever waited was about 30ish days (and that was likely because it was ‘stuck’ in customs; I have a few stories about ‘customs’, as I’m sure many others do). Still, it could be because I never chose the slowest option. Anyway, sorry, I’m rambling. : – }

Mrmopar: I love ordering from Gingko as well; she seems to really know pu-erh. But, I e-mailed her recently about pu-erh picks, and my understanding is, in terms of her having them in stock, it’s sporadic.

btw, here is her link on eBay No Pu-erh picks currently.

mrmopar said

SimpliciTEA thanks for the link!!!

AJ said

Beat me to the link.

I think the majority of what she lists on ebay is teaware (and the occasional puerh). I always enjoy getting stuff from her, though. I’ve been kinda hoping she’d get in more selection of dan cong oolongs again…

Shipping times can be ridiculous, but I think thus far the longest I’ve had for something coming from China is 20 days (/the dreaded customs delay/). Haven’t gotten anything from Dragon Tea House myself, but I see it mentioned a lot in the forums with positive reviews. I don’t know if I’ll ever order tea through ebay, but definitely accessories. I don’t really mind the wait on those, I tend not to order with a deadline.

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Dr Jim said

It could be free. I have received various tool sets as gifts over the years, and the screwdriver sets often include an awl. I think I have two that are pretty much unused. One has never been in my tool box (which is pretty dirty, so not very tea-appropriate).

Yeah, I noticed lots of tool sets coming up in my searches. Now you know have at back-up pu-erh pick if you ever need one!

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boychik said

I use bird beak knife which is a part of my Wusthof set. i never use this knife for anything else. since i already have it why not. The blade is thin and strong

Cool knife. Wild how they show the manufacturing process on the Amazon webpage. Looks like it has great reviews as well. Yet another re-purposed item!

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Garret said

We just got these up on the site. I had brought one back from last China Trip, loved it so much that we had a bunch shipped in. They’ve been well reviewed here in the shop. Work like a charm and have a nice weight/feel to them.

And it makes a swell gift, too :)

Garret: Thanks for alerting us to your newly added pu-erh picks.

As I am a comparison shopper, I did a quick check on eBay and here are two that look very similar:

Shipping notwithstanding, your price beats both of theirs!

I don’t know about others, but I am often swayed into buying the product that I have a little more info about (especially when it’s personal experience): you tell us how well they work and how they feel when using them. Thanks!

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boychik said

Iron cakes and chisel!

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