Shifting Preferences / Palate

Noonie
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:50 am

Anyone experienced this...

For the last couple years I’ve been fairly routine with the tea I drink in a week. Sencha or Matcha 1-2 times a day, with my longer sessions (weekends and time permitting on weekdays) enjoying high mountain oolong (greener variety). I sprinkle in Dan Cong and Yancha.

In the last month I’ve gotten into Pu’erh, and have been having more Yancha than usual. Now when I sit down for a session with high mountain oolong it seems to light for me. I still have my daily Sencha and Matcha and I enjoy those as usual.
Last edited by pedant on Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: mod edit: title tweak
carogust
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:55 am

Have to agree.
Started out with pu erh but moved to primarily oolongs. I've been craving some of the nicer, higher quality ones but I doubt I'd want more than the very tiny usual 25g sample size.
Even in oolongs I've had a shift. I used to do the whole 75%+ pot fill rate with yancha but find that I prefer using less tea but longer steepings. The 75% fill felt occasionally too intense. I've had good success with even less leaf.
Trying out that style of brewing now, it feels way too intense even if the taste isn't too strong. Interesting how I gravitate towards little bit weaker tea, or less consumption, but it seems that others gravitate to consuming more. I guess it's just our personal tolerance levels.
I'm not as much of a seasoned drinker as others so it might just be me finding what I like best at this stage.
It seems that people naturally gravitate towards from greener to darker teas. It might be that the darker teas offer up a more complex & dynamic experience, or are more softer and easier to drink. Pu erh is fairly complex as a tea and good ones have a certainly strong "personality" that would excite a seasoned tea drinker.
Noonie
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:14 am

carogust wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:55 am
Have to agree.
Started out with pu erh but moved to primarily oolongs. I've been craving some of the nicer, higher quality ones but I doubt I'd want more than the very tiny usual 25g sample size.
Even in oolongs I've had a shift. I used to do the whole 75%+ pot fill rate with yancha but find that I prefer using less tea but longer steepings. The 75% fill felt occasionally too intense. I've had good success with even less leaf.
Trying out that style of brewing now, it feels way too intense even if the taste isn't too strong. Interesting how I gravitate towards little bit weaker tea, or less consumption, but it seems that others gravitate to consuming more. I guess it's just our personal tolerance levels.
I'm not as much of a seasoned drinker as others so it might just be me finding what I like best at this stage.
It seems that people naturally gravitate towards from greener to darker teas. It might be that the darker teas offer up a more complex & dynamic experience, or are more softer and easier to drink. Pu erh is fairly complex as a tea and good ones have a certainly strong "personality" that would excite a seasoned tea drinker.
I think these shifts are good...and I assume they’ll continue (with me) indefinitely. It’s also the context I gain from the internet and books that helps fuel my ongoing interest in a variety of teas.
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Bok
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:48 pm

I would say my main shift (apart from greener to more darker teas) is from cheap/mediocre to good and pricey.

Once you taste a better tea than you had before, it becomes difficult to accept what was ok before. Have been drinking my way down the rabbit hole for years now... sometimes I curse the people who made me discover better and better teas, as those come at a price and one is lost for lower quality forever.

I'd rather have no tea or coffee than mediocre tea. In my experience mediocre coffee is still a lot more palatable than mediocre tea.

I fear the day when I am not living in Asia anymore and access to certain teas will be impossible, or come at restrictive pricing...
carogust
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:02 am

Bok wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:48 pm
I would say my main shift (apart from greener to more darker teas) is from cheap/mediocre to good and pricey.

Once you taste a better tea than you had before, it becomes difficult to accept what was ok before. Have been drinking my way down the rabbit hole for years now... sometimes I curse the people who made me discover better and better teas, as those come at a price and one is lost for lower quality forever.

I'd rather have no tea or coffee than mediocre tea. In my experience mediocre coffee is still a lot more palatable than mediocre tea.

I fear the day when I am not living in Asia anymore and access to certain teas will be impossible, or come at restrictive pricing...
Hah, I have to agree! Good tea luckily doesn't have to be pricey. It kind of depends on what you like (sadly, for us oolong heads, you have to pay for the special ones).
Bad tea certainly can be very very nasty. Even some good teas can be fairly rough if consumed regularly (young raw pu-erh).

The very good teas are almost like characters! They have such a strong "personality" in the taste. I don't know if taste is even the right word to describe them. It is more like the tastes are sensations as well, dynamic and evolving. Definitely not flat. I've found that teas that simply taste good don't excite me anymore... They're flat and lifeless. If you can appreciate this livelyness and "personality" it's hard to go back!
Oh and I am definitely jealous of those that live in asia... I WISH I had access to those really special yanchas that I've seen mentioned here and there (that yancha maker that kyarazen has an article on seems really magical, Oh I wish....)
Noonie
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:35 am

carogust wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:02 am

Hah, I have to agree! Good tea luckily doesn't have to be pricey. It kind of depends on what you like (sadly, for us oolong heads, you have to pay for the special ones).
Bad tea certainly can be very very nasty. Even some good teas can be fairly rough if consumed regularly (young raw pu-erh).

The very good teas are almost like characters! They have such a strong "personality" in the taste. I don't know if taste is even the right word to describe them. It is more like the tastes are sensations as well, dynamic and evolving. Definitely not flat. I've found that teas that simply taste good don't excite me anymore... They're flat and lifeless. If you can appreciate this livelyness and "personality" it's hard to go back!
Oh and I am definitely jealous of those that live in asia... I WISH I had access to those really special yanchas that I've seen mentioned here and there (that yancha maker that kyarazen has an article on seems really magical, Oh I wish....)
Maybe it’s best, if not previously having access to those special teas, to not know what you’re missing!
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Bok
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:47 am

carogust wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:02 am
Oh and I am definitely jealous of those that live in asia... I WISH I had access to those really special yanchas that I've seen mentioned here and there (that yancha maker that kyarazen has an article on seems really magical, Oh I wish....)
If it’s any consolation, I’ve had it (once) and while it is definitely a nice tea, I would not say it’s the best Yancha I’ve ever had. Magical is certainly not the adjective I’d use :)

Yanyun was quite present and particular, but that might have been missed by many if not experienced in high end Yancha.
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Victoria
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:22 am

After several years focusing on Japanese greens, I segued into Taiwan high mountain and roasted oolong, and later as a result of tea gatherings at my house became exposed to very high quality yancha and Pu’erh. I feel lucky that in the west we do have access to excellent teas from Asia and India/Nepal. TeaForum and Los Angeles Tea Society members have very generously shared high quality Wuyi oolong, Yunnan pu’erh, Taiwan oolong and Japanese greens with us. We now have worldwide direct access to serious vendors and farmers producing excellent teas. Along with this, we are very lucky here at TeaForum to have as members, knowledgable smaller scale vendors providing us access to great teas. If a member here feels we in the west do not have access to high quality teas, please share those teas with us :) 🍃.
carogust
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:28 am

Bok wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:47 am
If it’s any consolation, I’ve had it (once) and while it is definitely a nice tea, I would not say it’s the best Yancha I’ve ever had. Magical is certainly not the adjective I’d use :)

Yanyun was quite present and particular, but that might have been missed by many if not experienced in high end Yancha.
That really is nice to hear! I've had one "refine" fired yancha (fired many many times and slowly + maybe with aging, not sure if that is the right term) that was quite lackluster but it did too, have a very clear and almost icy yun (one steep sadly). I really liked the style and I just wished it was better. So maybe I'd like it better, who knows.
Victoria wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:22 am
After several years focusing on Japanese greens, I segued into Taiwan high mountain and roasted oolong, and later as a result of tea gatherings at my house became exposed to very high quality yancha and Pu’erh. I feel lucky that in the west we do have access to excellent teas from Asia and India/Nepal. TeaForum and Los Angeles Tea Society members have very generously shared high quality Wuyi oolong, Yunnan pu’erh, Taiwan oolong and Japanese greens with us. We now have worldwide direct access to serious vendors and farmers producing excellent teas. Along with this, we are very lucky here at TeaForum to have as members, knowledgable smaller scale vendors providing us access to great teas. If a member here feels we in the west do not have access to high quality teas, please share those teas with us :) 🍃.
It certainly is nice that access to more special/unique teas is increasing. It still is not 100% coverage, and doubt that it will ever be but I think it's good enough already where it is! (of course there is a possible vendor markup but with straight to the farm vendors the access might be even better than some teashops in asia.)
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Bok
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:30 pm

carogust wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:28 am
of course there is a possible vendor markup but with straight to the farm vendors the access might be even better than some teashops in asia.)
The markups have been discussed a few time here, suffice to say that but for a few glorious exceptions, they are quite high...

The farmers ain’t stupid either, they sell at retail price and just pocket the wholesale percentage. Look at all those Instagram tea shop-farms popping up in China... Still, tea is bit of a niche in the West, asian teashops will in general have more to offer - but, big BUT, what you are also paying for in the West is that someone actually finds those good teas among all the myriads of options. Offer in Asia is not the problem, the tricky thing is to find the good stuff among it.

As a Westerner you pay kind of a head hunting fee. Which I think is fair, sourcing tea is hard work and possible returns are small.
carogust
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Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:09 am

Bok wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:30 pm
The markups have been discussed a few time here, suffice to say that but for a few glorious exceptions, they are quite high...
Whoops, started making assumptions before knowing pretty much any true facts about the topic! Sorry.
Noonie
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Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:12 am

Bok wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:30 pm

The farmers ain’t stupid either, they sell at retail price and just pocket the wholesale percentage. Look at all those Instagram tea shop-farms popping up in China... Still, tea is bit of a niche in the West, asian teashops will in general have more to offer - but, big BUT, what you are also paying for in the West is that someone actually finds those good teas among all the myriads of options. Offer in Asia is not the problem, the tricky thing is to find the good stuff among it.

As a Westerner you pay kind of a head hunting fee. Which I think is fair, sourcing tea is hard work and possible returns are small.
Not being a small business person I’m not sure all the details on how things work here in the west, and whether these business models may make it out to the east (or exist already), but do you think it likely that in the future an established farmer could offer their tea via post/mail to the west (to a degree where it exceeds other business models)? If they process the tea (etc) themselves, after packaging and ready for transportation, couldn’t they just charge for shipping and go direct to consumer? Sure there is always the issue of trust, but tea farmers who build a good reputation online could have repeat business and referrals for years to come.

I’m sure there are many other barriers, but if it means a tea farmer gets % more for their tea, and the consumer gets a slightly lower price (no hunter!), seems logical. And there would still be those consumers okay paying with that hunting fee to make it easier.

But I welcome an education lesson! ;)
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Bok
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Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:27 am

@Noonie sure, those farmers might exist. So far I’ve only come across the other kind... they sell out their tea anyways. In China demand(and willingness to pay top $) for premium tea is so high that the foreign market is of little interest to them.

In Taiwan demand is also quite high, so if you have good tea you can usually sell it. But foreigners will pay more retail for it than locals which makes the cut-out middlemen interesting for some. Taiwanese have little tolerance for price increases in tea, so farmers have a harder life here if unforeseen circumstances cut their yield.
Ethan Kurland
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Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:00 am

Do we change so much; or, do we want a challenge or excitement, making us thinkthat we have changed? I think we crave excitement so much that we limit our enjoyment of the teas that we like.

Observing people searching for the best tea and/or best prices, I think about excitement some years back. Foushoushan was available to members at a fair price (lower than the price of most vendors) by more direct contact than usual. Anticipation for the arriving tea & appreciation for receipt of the tea was great. Discussion about the tea itself once it was being drunk, was not as great. (It was liked very much but not extolled for such a long period of time as it was before the tea was in the hands of its buyers.) I'll return to FSS in a moment.

Goashan usually conforms to a pattern: By the assessment of those who produce it, the highest quality is usually not for sale; the highest quality for sale is outrageously expensive; &, there are many levels of quality just down from the top to the lowest quality, in fact there are too many choices for the producer & retail customer to work through together to find the ideal mid-level` purchases without someone spending a week or so sampling (if he is allowed to do it). Roasted oolong challenges the seller-buyer dynamic more, since appreciating the nuances of roasted oolong seems to require a developed palate. The amount of roasting is a factor combined with varying oxidation levels....

In short, a retail customer looking to choose from everything within one category of tea, should ultimately get exhausted, not excited.

Back to FSS: Quality of FSS was not even an issue when the direct-link excitement occured. Authenticity was an issue & how pretty the tins were. A year later I got to sample different grades of FSS. I believe that the purchasing that went on through the forum was for the next-to-highest grade of FSS available. This was the most sensible purchase as the top grade for sale (fitting the pattern) cost way too much. I purchased a wholesale quantity of that same grade of FSS having it vacuum-packed in what I thought was a more practical size & brought it back to the USA in my carry-on. As a vendor I announced that I had authentic FSS for the same $1 per gram without international shipping costs, pre-ordering....

My inbox did not overflow. So, I conclude that sometimes we like to go hunting. The chase, quest,.....is exciting. We like to think there is also a reward, like fishing to bring home the freshest fish for free. The reality that the cost of getting to the water, gear, etc. was $20 per pound. The reality of FSS is that it is special, but not so exciting when one can buy it easily. (On my last vendor update I reduced the FSS price by $3; no one noticed.)

Our preferences shift; our palates develop (hopefully); also, we want to be excited, to be on a quest. Bok has written that he thinks of 150 grams as the size of a sample because he will learn what to appreciate about a tea, how varying paramters effect the drinking, etc. I think his search for the best way to enjoy a tea can be more exciting than looking for a farmer who will sell retail or jumping to new types of a tea for a challenge (such as pu-erh). (Though about one third of 150 grams seems enough of a sample for me). Shifting of preferences does not always need to be about switching teas, but can even be what time of day we drink a specific tea etc. Drinking before eating, after eating.... Our palates may not change as much as we think they do, just that we need a bit of change in our routines. Cheers

I
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debunix
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Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:26 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:00 am
I purchased a wholesale quantity of that same grade of FSS having it vacuum-packed in what I thought was a more practical size & brought it back to the USA in my carry-on. As a vendor I announced that I had authentic FSS for the same $1 per gram without international shipping costs, pre-ordering....

My inbox did not overflow. So, I conclude that sometimes we like to go hunting.
And sometimes we have purchased enough from the first excited buy (thinking vacuum sealed tea stores very well) to have an overflowing tea box for a while to come!
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