My undergrad major is psychology. In a marketing psychology class I came to realize what drives me to buy stuff – limited quantities. If I have the feeling if I miss out on something, I freak out. When I heard Butiki Teas was closing down, I ordered a bunch of my favorites (and some new teas that I would regret not trying), not waiting for any sales, as if I miss out I will be sad.
Sadly, some teas aren’t forever. Your favorite teas could get discontinued or the seller closes up shop. The tea could be seasonal and be gone for most of the year or never comes back the next year. Your tea could of been a limited run for that year and whatever was produced is all there is.
There is a struggle though - for most teas you can’t simply buy a couple pounds of tea and make it last forever. Teas go bad, no matter how good you store it. In my experience, tea blends with chocolate or fruit will turn funny colours after a year or two. I’ve had some tea blends that get a sour smell after a few years, even without additional bits added. For unflavored teas I found the flavor will start getting stale after awhile, though they seem to last much longer than blends as they don’t turn funky. However, this is all climate dependent – if you live in a more warm/humid climate, your teas will not keep as long. With that said, if you plan to stock pile your favorite before it goes away – buy enough that you know you can finish, or experience the heartbreak of “My favorite tea that I cannot get anymore has gone bad!” and cry as you throw your sour tasting & grey looking tea in the compost bin.
Pu’er is a completely different animal. Pu’er will keep much longer and can get better with age (provided you have good storage.) HOWEVER pu’er its self is a limited quantity item. If you love that 2004 sheng, they can’t make more of that same 2004 sheng pu’er in 2014. White2Tea’s blog states buying pu’er like this – 3 Tenets, and in sum of the final tenet, Hit it hard – if you find a pu’er you like, buy as much as you can as it’ll be expensive or be gone forever! I’ve already experienced heart break on a few pu’er cakes – it was affordable when I purchased it, next year it wasn’t so affordable to buy more OR was gone completely.
The Quest for your Discontinued Tea
Find it from another tea seller. Often, teas are sourced. Tea sellers purchase from others wholesale, repackage and sell in their shop. Or the tea will come from a specific tea farm or estate. If you drink a lot of tea from many sellers, browse many tea sellers, you can pick out which sellers do sourced teas or ask other fellow tea drinkers. Some tea sellers are upfront where they get their tea from, though if tea seller is closing up shop, they might tell you who they purchased tea from. This solution can direct you to the source to purchase (though potentially only in mass quantities) or another seller who has the same tea. Unfortunately (and in my case with Butiki Teas), many tea sellers blend tea themselves, so when they are gone, they are gone for good – so stock up what you can drink!
For Pu’er, say you love a particular tea factory, you can hit google or ebay/aliexpress and various sellers may sell it (hopefully real ones!), otherwise you should of tenet 3′d! Sorry!
Buy the tea off a fellow tea drinker. Hit up your favorite Tea community (Steepster and r/tea as suggestions). Someone out there might have your tea and be willing to part with it – for swaps of your current tea or cash. There has been a few times I’ve had teas that have been discontinued that I’ve traded away to someone who has been questing for - I know they love that tea more than I do. Tea Karma, hoot!
When all fails and you cannot find your discontinued tea
Find a similar tea. Feel free to ask tea communities for recommendations “I like X tea that was sold be Y seller, it is a (green/black/whatever) and it tastes like this ______. Is there anything similar or teas you think I’d like?”
Find a new favorite. Try something new – buy a bunch of tea samples from a new seller or two. You can also try joining a travelling tea box and sample teas you normally wouldn’t buy. You can try swapping for some new teas with a fellow tea drinker. You can subscribe to a monthly tea box that will send you new teas every month.
Change your tea habits or get a tea goal. Okay, this is a stretch and a combination of the 2 points above. Maybe this is my mental tea defense mechanism to avoid the discontinued tea heartbreak, but I prefer to try new teas instead of drinking the same teas, so I’m used to always having something new. For tea goals, these will divert your attention elsewhere, maybe find a few new favorite teas. There’s been times that I quested like, “I really enjoyed seller X’s high mountain oolong. Crap, seller X is no more or sold out. Well, let’s quest for an EVEN better high mountain oolong!” or “Hmm, I haven’t given Oriental Beauty oolongs much love, let’s try and find something outstanding!”
What do you do with the last of your favorite tea
As I said above, you can only store a tea for so long, so you should only stockpile as much as you can drink for a year or two (barring pu’er). Do your best to store these additional teas as best as you can – air tight, dark tins in a cool place or try vacuum sealing your teas.
In the end, be sure to drink your favorite tea and enjoy it. Taste every last drop and remember the memories of the tea.