Reasons for not recommending vendors....

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Ethan Kurland
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Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:51 pm

Perhaps this should be in general discussion, ...but

This afternoon it occurred to me that vendors in Taiwan always seemed to use a lot of leaves to prepare samples (an amount far in excess of what I would use most often). Sometimes some attention was carefully paid to how much a scoop was filled with leaves before they were emptied into pots or gaiwans or bowls; sometimes it was so casual. Yet, when I asked some vendors about proportions, the answer was always 1 gram per 50 ml of water; or, that is up to the individual drinker.

People who were using 2, 3, 4, or more grams per 50 ml of water, would not own up to it.....

I think vendors have other odd behavior & blind spots. Hesitancy and/or inability to describe teas well, for example.

The most common ? about recommendations of forum, is where can I buy a specific tea. But what is a specific tea. Even something as specific as Ruby 21 black tea from Taiwan (which I happen to be enjoying now) could be a problem in terms of recommendations. I believe the one that I drink & sell is the best because I like it so much & have never liked any other 21s; nonetheless, there is always subjectivity.....

Before I was a vendor, I once apologized on Teachat for underestimating how much leaf I used. I had not used a scale; when I bought a scale & measured, I learned that I was so wrong. Anyway, just thinking out loud while enjoying some tea. Cheers
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Bok
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Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:55 am

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:51 pm
This afternoon it occurred to me that vendors in Taiwan always seemed to use a lot of leaves to prepare samples (an amount far in excess of what I would use most often). Sometimes some attention was carefully paid to how much a scoop was filled with leaves before they were emptied into pots or gaiwans or bowls; sometimes it was so casual. Yet, when I asked some vendors about proportions, the answer was always 1 gram per 50 ml of water; or, that is up to the individual drinker.
I have never come across a vendor that measures leaves. The most common reply to your question is to cover the bottom of the pot. Which works in 90% of cases (for Taiwanese tea). I guess most professionals have done it so many times they do not even think about – what might seem as not paying attention is just that they do not need to any longer.

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:51 pm
I think vendors have other odd behavior & blind spots. Hesitancy and/or inability to describe teas well, for example.
They are also people only… there are good and bad vendors for any kind of product or service. Others describe teas in words that exagerate the actual quality of the tea.



Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:51 pm
The most common ? about recommendations of forum, is where can I buy a specific tea. But what is a specific tea. Even something as specific as Ruby 21 black tea from Taiwan (which I happen to be enjoying now) could be a problem in terms of recommendations. I believe the one that I drink & sell is the best because I like it so much & have never liked any other 21s; nonetheless, there is always subjectivity.....
I for one, trust only the judgement of people where I know I am on the same page in terms of what classifies a good tea. For all others I test it myself first and then decide if I can trust their judgment in the future…

Makes me always smile when someone says “oh that XYZ is really good apparently” – well according to who? and who are they? Any idiot can put up a blog these days and write his fingers red with judgements and comments and musings and whatnot, but: what do we know who is the actual person behind it!
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OldWaysTea
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Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:46 am

I've never encountered the brewing parameter thing in China, but it is something companies like Teavana were famous for.
Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:51 pm
I think vendors have other odd behavior & blind spots. Hesitancy and/or inability to describe teas well, for example.
I sure do. I hope to improve over time, but am happy with my vendor journey so far. We should seek to point out our blind spots.
Ethan Kurland wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:51 pm
where can I buy a specific tea. But what is a specific tea
I suspect that the answer to this question will separate the tea drinkers from the tea collectors. I think a tea is like a common melody or folk song. Some people play a version you like, others don't. That folk song has an origin and a history. Some parts you can leave out without leaving the listeners utterly confused while other elements are strictly essential.
Bok wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:55 am
only the judgement of people where I know I am on the same page in terms of what classifies a good tea
So, rather than "Reasons for not recommending vendors...." I think this thread is a testament to why we do recommend vendors. The recommendations we make are a way of sharing what we enjoy. Additionally, in this age where many tea purchases are made without a smell or a taste, the customer must have some trust in a particular vendor's sense of taste.
Ethan Kurland
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Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:08 am

Bok and everyone,

The one gram per 50 ml standard is quoted in the tourist areas of Taipei, perhaps not elsewhere at all. I cannot remember exactly.

I have not measured myself in a long time but have felt it necessary to give an exact amount which is stupid because it is an estimate that is easy to get wrong. I am just not going to do that anymore.

Bok's standard of covering the bottom is a good starting point. From there anyone can know to stay with that or add or take away a bit. The tea that I have is good enough by far to produce good results whether there were a bit too much or too little leaves on initial preparations.

Likewise for using various vessels for preparation. Some teapots are better than others for specific teas; however, I have never come close to disaster by using the "wrong" teaware.

Bok reminds us that vendors are human. My "mea culpa" about estimating wrong on grams, was in fact my reminder of "our" human foibles. When I am buying from my main source in person, if it is not too busy, I am allowed to prepare my own samples. The family is not insulted thinking I think they got it wrong. They know that I am the crazy one. Cheers
wildisthewind
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Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:37 pm

1g per 50ml is also the basis for competition brewing standards (3g/150ml or 5g/250ml). Those are steeped 6 minutes.

I typically use about that ratio when brewing non-gongfu (western? :?), but steep for maybe 3 minutes, 2 or 3 times. It seems to work well.

So maybe the vendors you describe are just anticipating that their customers will mostly not be brewing gongfu?
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Bok
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Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:02 pm

wildisthewind wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:37 pm
1g per 50ml is also the basis for competition brewing standards (3g/150ml or 5g/250ml). Those are steeped 6 minutes.

I typically use about that ratio when brewing non-gongfu (western? :?), but steep for maybe 3 minutes, 2 or 3 times. It seems to work well.

So maybe the vendors you describe are just anticipating that their customers will mostly not be brewing gongfu?
in my experience, in Taiwan where Ethan encountered those sellers, people are not obsessed with measuring exactly how they are preparing their tea. They use optical and other less accurate methods and simply do not care how exact it might be or not. So when confronted with a question like this they give a standard answer.

They are obsessed with numbers don’t get me wrong, just not counting the seconds when brewing tea ;)
It takes ages for people to get a new phone number, number plate or even buying a house, as people will consult experts and ponder over numbers for them being lucky or unlucky! Sometimes goes as far as that potential new employees ID card numbers are checked...
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