…just doing my regular rounds in KM tea markets and talking to the tea shop owners about 2019. I hear lots of skepticism and complains how last 2 years were bad in matter of tea business. Ancient “gu shu” tea trees & aged tea concepts , which still work well for foreign market , are not good enough here any more since many people know that this has been vastly abused.
Dry stored teas are more “read-able” so not much space for “adjusting” the age and arbor tea material is rocketing high on prices already from the source ( tea farmers ) . Tea price forecast for this spring does not look good for anybody who runs the tea business because seem to be more than likely adjusted for tea tourism growing fast in places like Xishuangbanna ( tea clubs , tea tours , organized jeeps / SUVs bring tourists to the tea locations ). Higher traffic is expected when the high speed train to Jinghong is finished.
Also info from other provinces circling around local soc.medias. Such as Fujian people will focus more on aged white tea , and “focus” doesn’t mean they are just going to suddenly find it somewhere being stored for 10y+ ;-D Same as more aged oolong is expected to show up on markets this year , and that’s not because 10 or 30y ago the sales were bad and somebody was lucky to find a forgotten storage as well;-) (which is the common marketing for this type of tea)
The overall economy in China is slowing down , more and more Tbiz owners are trying their luck abroad (FB,Inst. Ebay, Amazon ) . ID’s of some Tea factories and even some ” Tea farmers ” are showing up the FB more than ever ( hard to say which one is real because we all have pictures hugging the tea tree, right ? 😉 .
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It can be promising for consumers abroad – more competition = lower prices, but unfortunately not better quality. On such a saturated market the price is playing the major part. When I looked on Ebay recently “pu-erh tea” 14500 items. ,Many of wrappers I recognize, many are those 10-20CNY pu-erh cakes wrapped in names of famous mount. or villages. Most of it is coming from Guangzhou , Shanghai or HK where inter. trade has a long history. Comparing the prices & quality in last 2 years, the rise & fall is significantly noticeable.
As I follow this year, not many vendors raised the prices of pu-erh tea as it’s common after CN New Year. Mostly the tea factories had to raise their tea prices in order to not to upset their investors. Dropped sales might go with pu-erh prices either way. One can cause lower the prices as natural behavior caused by lower demand and increased competition. Or other way might cause increase the prices ( especially arbor and gu shu tea material ) , since the shops need to cover their same or even higher this year expenses with a smaller amount being sold then in previous years.
Even shops with long history and long customer’s list , struggle now. Seems like we hit 2007 year again which suggests that in 10 years from now there will be lots of aged pu-erh on tea market causing the price of ” lao cha ” not being much higher after such a long time . That slows down tea vendors in decision to make a tea for storage this year as an investment for future.
There are various concepts I hear from sellers. Somebody wants to focus on different packaging, different way of selling (online / offline platforms or places ) , somebody focuses on small amount but many places , somebody wants to do small amount but higher quality or famous places. But not many of them planning to go big and simple this year. It will take probably few years when that momentum of decreased demand will reach the tea farms and make the tea farmers reevaluate the prices. Although we have already seen desperate situation in some places last year, yet farmers still hanging on and hold the prices high despite having 2-3y old tea not being sold in few tons amount.
Some on tea farm / storage is ok until the certain time. Most of those places are in high humidity environment and too long is not too good.
Many villages are eager to get their tea tourism promoted as they can see the successful model in places like Bing Dao or LBZ , however that is dependent on many factors which they simply can not control. So what they usually do, is the old fashion way to get an attention – raising the prices ridiculously high. This concept still works for many Chines consumers in many branches and tea is not an exception.
New concepts from tea farmers and tea producers are showing up more then before. Known as ” xin gong yi” – Extended “wei diao” – withering time processed tea leaf , “yao qing” step applied during the processing or “gao wen sha qing” higher temperature during the kill green step. In all cases it is done for few reasons. Make tea the sweeter , therefore approachable to the wider audience / clientele or sell it as an Gu Shu tea despite the young age of the tea tree. I came across Bai Yun Shan wild tee leafs processed with “yao qing” which was really sweet all the way long, yet the oolong processing ( reminding a Dan Cong tea ) was noticeable along with wild tea taste which was also obvious from the tea leaf structure. It was sold as 500+ years old Gu Shu for 6000 CNY/kg.
Please also note that this is not a static article but dynamic one , we do update it time of the time with new information!