Thursday, November 21, 2019

Breaking my 2019 Tea Purchase Hiatus

Yes dear readers, I did not make it all the way through on my 2019 tea purchase hiatus.  It's not that I drank up all the home supply but I ran out of a particular profile of tea- robust, dark, uncomplicated yet tasty. That sounds suspiciously like coffee and when you've punched the mornings out with the devil's brew for two years, tea grapples to take it's place.  The puerh crammed in my closet I've come to recognize is just not functional enough and is too inconsistent for daily utility. But I didn't hoard all those beengs for utilitarian purposes.

Not a photo... latest Kojima game.
The hiatus was not about saving money and more about simplifying one's life or at least not complicating it with yet more boxes of tea that have no place to go but pile up on one's overburdened desk.  All year I made respectable progress drinking up un-ageable teas(seasonal green teas, lapsang souchongs past due) and I cleared out a dozen random bags of half open tea samples.  There is a refreshing freedom to not thinking about procuring yet more tea and simply drink what you have.

As I've not strained my purchase decision muscles buying puerh, I've diverted my energies to the delight of my husband into buying new issue preferred stocks and municipal/infrastructure funds instead.  I have to admit choosing financial instruments is much easier than selecting a sheng beeng to age. The other day, Fidelity despite their "no commision" switchover charged me $50 international fee to make an OTC purchase of a new Canadian preferred issue.  And this pilfered $50 could have been a decent tea order and definitely a lot of quality assam.  When one leaks money in unwanted fees, one can right this wrong by leaking the same amount into something you do want! Laugh away.

Behavioral economists talk about our completely irrational way of dividing up money as mental accounting.  The most common example is when spouses who pool all their assets together still consider gifts bought with "earnings" from the other spouse more special even when paid from the same family till. I should consider tea my husband bought on his own volition something special except the last unfortunate incident involved gnarly large leaf barnyard shu from Oakland Chinatown. It was an act of complete sincerity on his part. Why oh why except husbands sometimes do weird things with the best of intentions.

I did drink shu this day...
But back to my first tea purchase of 2019, I had a great hankering for assam which I've found to be my ideal base for a brisk morning brew. I find selecting Indian black teas a relatively low stress task. Unlike buying puerh where there is a huge wild card factor involving the underlying tea and it's past storage conditions, I've found the tea grading system to be a reliable gauge for  Indian teas.  Especially with assams, one TGFOP isn't wildly different to one from a different estate and my tea enjoyment can be expected to be roughly the same.  But enjoyment pegged to a vertical price/quality gradient is not as useful as lateral comparisons.  One can expect an GFOP to be more robust and brisk in taste than those higher up the quality/price ladder. GFOP can do morning duty much better than the highest grade SFTGFOP but whether or not one would enjoy the pricier SFTGFOP commensurate with the premium is not entirely assured.  Indian tea market has always been largely a buyers market and tea classification system sure does make comparison shopping easy for the small fry consumer like me. I don't ever expect such efficiencies to enter the puerh market.

I had no shortage of vendor options but ended up ordering for the first time from Indian middleman teabox.  In the U.S., Upton has the largest loose leaf assam selection but teabox had a more compelling assam lineup with better prices.  Most importantly teabox carried a tea in my tea bucket list- a winter Nilgri frost black tea.  I followed common sense that an Indian vendor has better depth of Indian teas than a U.S. based one that carries a world selection  so we will see next Tuesday how this bundle of assam joy from India will shake out.

International tea buying is always a slippery slope. I really only needed ~100g of tea but $50 gives you free shipping and then you want to make a tea haul worth your while.   I pared down the order to a mere nine 100 gram packets of quality assam(2 pounds) $66 free shipping. I'm sure my sweet husband would appreciate my restraint.

No comments:

Post a Comment