Thursday, April 26, 2007

Making Sense of Tea Collecting

I finally did what I have procrastinated from doing until last Saturday. I recorded and labeled my pu’er stash. The main goal was simple: to keep track of what I have, the quantity, when I bought them, who or where from, and the price I paid.

When the tea dust settled, my spreadsheet said I have about 48 kilograms (~106 lbs) of pu’er. Assuming a standard beeng weighs 357 grams, then I have the equivalent of 134 beengs or 19 tongs. By all means mine is a small stash when compared to the collection of some other pu’er enthusiasts I know. Nevertheless, I probably have slightly more tea than many tea drinkers have in their cabinets. Showing off how hefty or how little I have is not my intention here.

After knowing exactly how much tea I have, one question loomed over my head: just exactly how much tea do I have? Being a wine lover and a small time collector, I tried to make sense of my tea collection the way I know how. So I calculated how many standard 750ml bottles my tea – the brewed liquor, mind you – can fit into. Here is how my mind works:

Conservatively speaking, 7 grams in a vessel that pours out 100 ml of tea can be infused for 10 times. That is saying 7 grams of dried pu’er leaves can produce 1,000 ml of non-alcoholic libation. With this logic, I have 9,143 bottles of tea.

Some would say that my computation is too conservative because one really can infuse them up to 20 times or more. Well, if that is so, then I have the equivalent of about 18,259 bottles of pu’er tea.


I like pu’er. However, I also love my oolong of different types, my Darjeeling, my wine, my whisky and, yes, plain water, too. I estimated that if I drank 2 sessions of pu’er per week on average, then the 48 kilograms stash will last for 66 years!

I have often heard about wealthy individuals who own an upward of 10,000 bottles of wine in their private cellars, and I have always thought they must be mad. Those few people who own 20,000 or more bottles for their “personal consumption”, well, the roads will be much safer without them. And here I am, sitting on top of 9,000 to 18,000 plus bottles of tea.

No, I have nothing against wealthy people. I inspire to be one, in fact.

27 of the 48 kilograms that I own are of vintage 2005. It’s the year my daughter was born in. My hope and wishes are that one day, when I’m dead from pu’er overdose, she will inherit these teas in addition to a sizable, generation-skipping, non-taxable trust fund. While the trust can easily be arranged, who can really know how the tea will fare. The aging potential of pu’er is still a big mystery to me, even after having downed many types and soaked myself with all the information I can get ad nauseam. Here is to planning and hoping that she will like the taste of pu'er in the first place.

The moral of this post? I should buy tea (and wine) with my consumption habit and future plan in mind because they really are just for personal use.


MarshalN said...

Or gifts! Should I tell you my birthday and other things now? :p

You have more tea than I do, and I thought I was addicted.

I think a lot of people, in China as well as elsewhere, are dawning on the same fact that you just arrived at -- that they have really more puerh than they will ever need.

Somehow, I think this will have market implications when coupled with sky high prices.

~ Phyll said...

Let me guess...every 15th of every month? :) Do tell me, though I am more inclined to send you a case of hard to find Belgian ales than tea. You have a lot of tea as it is, I bet.

Davelcorp said...

ahem! cough...cough...

I enjoy Belgian ales quite a bit. Oregon Pinot as well. California Cabs. Cotes du Rhone. Alsatian Riesling. Whatever you feel the need to share.

By the way, if you can "make sense" of it, you aren't a true collector.

-David (the 17th of every month)

~ Phyll said...

Good words, Davelcorp. I wish I have unlimited resources to afford not making sense of my collection. :\

(the 17th of next month!)