Mar 28, 2012

tea pictures, Yixing picture book and blog sale

Here I have three things to show. The first two are sets of post cards, and the third is a Yixing picture book. None of them is a "must have" item. I just thought they are interesting and would like to offer a channel if some people are interested in getting them. For the two sets of post cards, I'm posting the scanned image of all of them and hope they can start some interesting discussions.

The postcards are made with retro style dark paper, and the original paintings seem to be between water color and gouache, so the colors are not very bright. The scanned image looks like those under strong light. The real color of the cards are darker. They are all of the regular postcard size. There is English caption on each card, but I think I've spotted a few typos on one of the cards that has a longer paragraph. But generally the English caption conveys the meaning all right.

Shipping for the postcards within North America is $3 regardless of amount. Shipping for the book within the US by media mail is $7 (insurance included) or to be determined if other shipping method is preferred.

Please contact me for shipping to other countries. The book may not cost more shipped to other countries than shipped to North America.

Neither the postcards nor the book has cover pockets or packaging. They will be packed carefully though.

I have quite a few sets of each type of postcard sets. The book, I have only 2 copies in hands. But a discount price is available for people who are willing to wait for 3-4 weeks. 

This blog sale is valid till the end of April or till the items last.
1. Set of 12 postcards with historical paintings about Chinese tea making and tea industry.

(You can click the pictures to get an enlarged view.)

The first four shows the cultivation. But I have doubts about the sowing, plowing and fertilizing pictures as the fields don't really look like tea fields, and most new tea bushes are not planted by sowing the seeds. Those pictures could be interpreted as cultivation of other things too.

On the back of the first card (sowing), there is also a note that these pictures were painted for foreign merchants to take home as souvenirs. So probably the main purpose of these pictures was to illustrate scenes of Chinese agricultural society, and the accuracy of cultivation probably wasn't important.

In the next 4 pictures, the "pounding tea" puzzles me. Where and when does this happen? Although Hakka people have "pounded tea", the picture doesn't look like it. The pictures of trading site (Hong) and transportation are not necessarily specifically about tea trade. But they were the common scene of that time for trading of various goods, including tea. 

The next four pictures are about tea processing. 

 2. Set of 8 postcards about porcelain/ceramic ware making.

The water-powered hammer looks quite novel and interesting to me :-)

3. Yixing picture book - An Atlas of the Best Yixing Zisha. It's big, 400 pages, 5 lb.

Due to the years of warehousing and international transportation, I can't guarantee each copy of the book is spotless new. There might be some small dents at the corners or on the cover. But over all the book should look new. The hard cover of the book also protects it quite well through storage and transportation.

It's a book in Chinese. But I would like to introduce this book to Yixing fans in any country because this book has very little text and primarily composed of pictures. Basically you don't have to "read" to "watch" this book. In China, many Yixing fans call this book "the bible of Yixing", for a number of good reasons:

First of all, this book is edited by Gu Jingzhou (顾景舟), the most recent "Godfather" of Yixing.

Secondly, this book has more than 500 nice photos of yixing ware (mostly teapots but also including vases, plant pots, and yixing sculptures). Each of them was hand picked and carefully inspected by Gu Jingzhou himself. Many of them are from collection of top-notch museums or the best yixing collectors. I can't imagine there could be another book with this number and this level of yixing image collection.

Thirdly, this book was made in planned-economy era. The efforts made to gather the image materials and write the book can't be evaluated by money, and the book wasn't made with a budget or profit in plan. That's also why a second book of this level of image collection is not likely to be seen in the current commercialized society.

This book was published in 1992. There is a Hong Kong version and a Taiwan version (same contents, different covers). This one is the Taiwan version by Taiwan Far East Publishing House. The retail price in 1992 is NT2800 (about US$70-80). The price of Hong Kong version is a little more expensive. The price didn't change much in the past 20 years (its current market price in mainland China is about US$90-100). I guess it's because this book has a small market - only people crazy about yixing would buy it, and this price is not very affordable to many people in Asia. Even when you are into yixing, there is always this dilemma between buying one decent yixing teapot for $100+ and buying a book of 500 yixing pictures for the same money! :-p

Here are some pictures of this book, for you to get a sense what it looks like.

It's about the size of A4 office supply printing paper.

A typical page is like this. The text is minimum and mainly about the names, seals and the names of collectors of the artworks. Even if you don't read Chinese, you don't miss much.

It also includes some yixing sculptures. 

More yixing sculptures.

These pages are about the most text-dense pages in the book. Out of the 400 pages, there are about 26 pages with a mix of text and pictures. All the rest are primarily composed of pictures as showed above.

Earlier pages of the book shows scenes of Yixing and yixing production.

I hope you have enjoyed watching the pictures :-) If there is a stream of demands, we will consider putting some of these items in our store. But I somehow feel only crazy people are into these sort of things  :-p

Mar 24, 2012

what affects shelf life of a green tea (1)

(The discussion is limited within Chinese green tea. Since there are very few "steamed green" type of Chinese green tea, most discussion here is about green tea using pan-frying to dis-active the oxidation enzymes in the leaves.)

While waiting for the new green tea, I was finishing up some 2011 green teas. The one in the picture is a Huang Shan Mao Feng, 10 months after its production. It's still quite fresh and enjoyable. Usually when new tea arrives and when you taste a new year and a previous-year green tea side by side, the difference is big. But before that, a well-made, well-stored previous-year green tea can serve you nicely. I put "well-made" before "well-stored", because I believe among all factors affecting a green tea's shelf life, processing is the most important. So here is a list of all these factors, in a sequence of importance/significance in my mind.

1. Processing.

When comparing a few puerh products, their quality/taste rank could be vastly different at two time points 10 years apart, or few years apart. This may even happen to some oolong products. But this doesn't happen to most green teas. Most green teas don't "age to become better". So usually a green tea must be well-made to still taste good after a year. However, when I mentioned well-made earlier, I was not just talking about the tea being made delicious when new. In green tea, it happens, from time to time, that a tea could taste nice and fresh when new, but deteriorate rather fast.

Once I got a sealed can of Long Jing from an aunt. I got it in late November of the production year, and the tea can was vacuum sealed. The tea leaves and buds look lovely and they were definitely from a very early harvest of that year. When I opened the can and start drinking the tea, I found the tea not superb but nice. But one or two months later, I found the taste of the tea significantly heavier and bitter. After a few more months, the bitterness got even stronger. I was quite frustrated and couldn't figure out why. I wondered if there was something wrong with the tea cultivar that I couldn't tell. I showed the tea to quite a few tea professionals, and all of them said the tea looked fine, authentic Long Jing #43 cultivar. But then, a few of them pointed out that the bitterness was most likely from the water content in the tea. Since the tea was vacuum sealed and then stored during the winter months in my dryly heated apartment, the most possible cause of the bitterness was not humid from the environment, but water content in the tea.

Typically, fresh leaves of green tea are pan-fried to have their oxidation enzymes killed. In the process, inevitably, the leaves will lose some aromas and flavor, while some new aromas and flavors will be generated. Besides, when the leaves are being manipulated in the pan, inevitably, tears and wears happen to some leaves, and leaf color changes as chlorophyll (the green pigment) in the tea is degraded by the hot temperature. In Chinese green tea industry, the outlook of the leaves is extremely important for tea grading, and torn leaves would be removed from high end tea. The more crushed leaves there are, the less final product can be obtained from the same initial amount of fresh leaves. So the tea worker has to find a balance between killing the enzymes in the leaves, coaxing the best aroma from tea leaves, minimizing loss of fresh flavor due to frying and minimizing leaf tears.

Sometimes, leaf shape and color do indicate the quality of the tea. For example, whole leaves often have less astringency than crushed leaves. Leaves that are over-fried both have dark spots and over-toasty flavor. On the other hand, the pursuit of perfect leaf shape and "fresh" leaf color sometimes causes problems. It puts pressures on the tea workers to pan-fry tea leaves less thoroughly than it's supposed to be. In recent years, this pressure is more and more found on teas such as Huang Shan Mao Feng, Xin Yang Mao Jian and quite a few others, which are not supposed to look as green as some other teas such as Bi Luo Chun. Green teas are of very different shades of green. But somehow in the market, "greener" color sells better. I didn't see this as much of a problem, because I thought tea processing was pretty much ruled by the tea workers. After all, they are the ones who know what to do. But in recent a couple of years, I've heard quite a bit complaints from tea farmers that how some merchants urge them to produce tea that looks "greener" and how some tea of improperly "greener" color would sell better than tea of perfectly darker green color. Market demands sometimes could shape production in a good way. But this case looks like an example of bad influence.

When an early spring green tea is not pan-fried as thoroughly as it should be, usually the leaves look greener and there might be less tear and wear (still depending on the worker's skill). So the tea could look "prettier". But such a tea usually tastes more grassy than it should. Such grassy taste is not as pleasant as the natural grassy, vegetal tastes found in some green teas. Even if the grassy taste is not a big problem for drinkers, the water content retained in the tea would be a bigger problem, as water accelerates biochemical processes in the tea leaves to make the tea turn bitter fast.

When going over factors affecting green tea's shelf life, I would like to put "processing" the first because I believe the intrinsic quality of the tea is the determining factor and much more important than how a consumer store the tea afterwards (which is important, but not that important as long as the tea is not abused).  However, in my observation, tea processing is often overlooked as a determining factor by both vendors and consumers.

Personally, I don't even think storage at the consumer's end is the second important factor. The second important factor, I believe, is packaging quality from producers/suppliers/vendors.

Mar 18, 2012

Long Jing Village's cultivation policies

(* Before the start, quick reports - (1) our earliest 2012 green tea has arrived; (2) 2012 harvests of Long Jing and quite a few other green teas are expected to be 5-15 days later than last year.)

China's political system is highly centralized. Sometimes the government is like the patriarch of a clan. It issues orders without giving people options of "yes" or "no". The system has a lot of problems, but people don't have an option to choose the system either. But sometimes it gets things done fast - this makes "bad" worse but makes good things happen sometimes. For example, in the "Olympic year" (2008), the government suddenly issued an order that all privately owned cars in Beijing could only run on the street half of the days each month, either even number days, or odd number days, depending on the last digit of the license plate number. Even today, there is a day during each week that a car can't run on the street of Beijing. To be honest, I'm quite happy about it. But is it fair? Probably not, considering the government initiated the expansion of automobile industry and automobile sales to begin with. 

In the same year, for the same reason (preparing a better environment for the Olympics), the government issued an order that no plastic bags should be given for free in any supermarkets or groceries nationwide. Suddenly, most people were forced into the life style of carrying fabric bags to shopping. There must be complaints. But surprisingly I didn't hear much complaint. I guess it's because this was just the life style people had merely 20 years ago, and after all, it was not that hard to go back to it. This is a typical non-democratic decision, but at least this one was not at the cost of anybody - or anybody I would care for :-p Till now, I still think this is one of the best things Olympics has brought to China. By the way, many of you have probably seen the tote in the photo on the left. It's a product of the above-mentioned time period :-D

The cultivation policies of Long Jing Village is another example of top-down policy. But what distinguishes them from many other government policies is probably that at the local level, it's well understood that everybody's economic benefits rely on it.

The photo on the left is from 家住龙井村. The paper is an official document from the village council (the lowest level of government office in rural China) to the villagers. It emphasizes the policies of "no artificial fertilizer, no pesticide before the end of spring harvest season". The document also points out that random inspection will be carried out to enforce these policies, and any violation will cause the farmer to be punished (it doesn't mention how) and lose all future subsidies for tea cultivation. The subsidies, according to my friend who lives in Long Jing village, basically include all costs of winter soybean paddy fertilization and all costs of pesticide. These two expenses are largest expenses of Long Jing cultivation next to labor costs. So nobody wants to risk losing the subsidies. Besides, the document also mentions that the policies are made to maintain a good reputation of West Lake Long Jing, and to maximize individual economic benefits of the villagers.

Obvious ecological benefits aside, the policy of "no artificial fertilizer" before spring harvest is quite important to the quality of Long Jing and nearly all tea. Supposedly the best time of fertilization is winter, when the tea trees "take a rest". And the best fertilizers are the traditional ones, such as those made with soybean debris used in Long Jing Village. During the spring season, it's important to let the tea trees take their time to grow, and any accelerated growth caused by artificial fertilizers. Since the price of Long Jing changes by the date of harvest, there is potential monetary incentive to have the tea growth artificially encouraged. Therefore, strict administration is necessary.

The rationale of "no pesticide before spring harvest" is quite obvious too. It should be practiced by all farmers, and as far as I know, a lot of farmers who care about their tea quality and their reputation would  strictly follow this rule.

Quite a few tea drinkers have asked this question, is there organic Long Jing cultivation in Hangzhou, the central producing region of Long Jing? I can't say "no" because I don't have knowledge of all plantations. But in general, pesticide is commonly used in summer and early autumn throughout the region. In China, organic pesticides are not an industry yet, and the research of organic pesticides is quite challenging. Internationally, there has been some research on organic pesticides, but not much has focused on tea cultivation. While there isn't yet option of organic pesticide, cultivation of Long Jing can hardly be free of non-organic pesticides.

The photos showed on the left were taken by another friend of mine who also lives in the Lion Peak (Shi Feng) region of Hangzhou. One day in the past February, this guy was wandering around the Lion Peak Mountain, and found a few small pieces of lands with tea bushes that suffered severely from bug bites. From the bites on the older leaves, he could tell this happened in last summer or autumn, and that's what tea bushes would typically look like when there is nothing to fight against the pests. Some bushes seemed completely dead. He had no clue why these tea bushes weren't received pesticide last year. It looks like an abandoned field. Probably something happened to the owner and s/he stopped taking care of the fields.  

These photos somewhat give us an idea about how hard organic cultivation could be. It requires a lot of fundamental scientific research in large scale, preferably sponsored by the government and conducted by authoritative organizations such as universities and research institutes. Before there is enough national investment on research, and before there are many scientists who actively participates in studies of organic cultivation, I wouldn't blame the farmers for not practicing completely organic cultivation.

Although the Long Jing farmers can't give up non-organic pesticides yet, there are indeed a lot of indigenous strategies to reduce the use of pesticides. In Long Jing Village, as well as a lot of other tea producing areas, it's common that tea farmer families raise chicken and let the chicken range in the tea fields. Birds, including chicken, are very efficient in eliminating bug of certain size. Usually, the real headache is from some smaller bugs that don't fit in the "diet" of birds. In Long Jing Village, the use of pesticides is not only strictly controlled within the range of milder types and within time periods far off the harvest season, there is also the policy that the entire village should have simultaneous application of pesticides. Other villages in the region have the same policy for their tea cultivation. It has turned out that simultaneous application can make pest control more efficient and therefore it's also the most economic use of pesticides. In addition, due to the high market price of Long Jing, many Long Jing farmers can afford hiring migrating workers to manually care for the tea fields, and therefore reduce the needs of pesticides.

A very important characteristic of Chinese tea production is that most of the best teas are from small scale production carried out by individual families or small work units (such as village co-ops). However, even when high end Long Jing is dominated by family production, no family is an island entire of itself. Sustainable agricultural practice benefits from collective actions, as well as advocates within the community. 

Mar 13, 2012

how to deal with obsessive tea shopping...

This blog entry is inspired by a recent discussion on, How do you stop the compulsion of buy buy BUY more tea?!
Currently I don't have much of obsessive tea shopping behaviors - well, it helps that I do tea shopping for "business" instead of for personal obsessions. But I have semi-obsessive (just to be moderate) personality, and I somewhat knew it long time ago and have tried to deal with it. I think I did make a lot of progress. To be honest, I still get obsessive on things from time to time, and still LOVE shopping... But to put a positive note, if I hadn't been working on reducing my obsessions, things could be much, much worse ;-)

Generally, I'm not an A type person, and I'm a believer of "do what you want". But somehow I get along with A type people very well, and quite a few of my best friends are A type people - goal oriented, self-disciplined, perfect control on everything, including themselves! I used to tease my A type friends a lot about their strict self-control. And of course, they teased me about my corruptible life style too. Now we've reached such a stage of life where many of my A type friends have started to learn to relax, and on the other hand, I've started to really appreciate and respect self-discipline.

A few year ago, in a meditation retreat, I heard this from Rev. Ryūmon Hilda Gutiérrez Baldoquín, a Soto Zen (曹洞宗) priest. She said, "Freedom is from discipline." It was an empathetic moment for me. As a person who values freedom more than most other things in life, for the first time, I had realized my pursuit of freedom was, more often than not, in the wrong direction. This sentence has since become my motto. Not that I've done well in self-discipline. I won't beat myself hard for my "human weakness", but to me, the awareness and willingness to work on it are both important.

I know tea shopping is fun, especially the options of tea varieties can never be exhausted! I didn't mean to ruin the party but I believe tea appreciation can be fun, and more fun, without compulsive shopping or over-spending. So here is a collection of suggestions from tea drinkers about how to deal with compulsive shopping, along with some of my thoughts. As you will see, I didn't include some of the most rigorous (or cruel) methods. All of them are mild and easy, yet effective!

1. Create a wish list and put on it things that you would like to have but don't have to get immediately.

A lot of shoppers recognized this rule and indeed it could help a lot.

This works especially well on vendors with a free shipping/flat shipping threshold. When I was more shopaholic and stingy at the same time, I would constantly fall into the loop of "the more you buy, the more you save!" Sometimes, you do save by buying more at one time and enjoying the free shipping. But I guess most people end up buying extra things just to meet the free shipping threshold (it happened to me at least). In fact, you only save when you buy what you plan to buy, and group your purchases into larger ones, instead of enlarging your purchase plans! This is very common sense when you keep a level head, which, however, is often lost during shopping :-p So if you keep everything you want in a wish list, and draw from it, and only from it, during shopping, you can more easily meet the shipping threshold without buying extra (and often useless) stuff or leave something out (which becomes the excuse of another purchase soon).

Overall, I think wish list is an easy approach that doesn't infringe much of the fun of shopping. But, let's face it, it doesn't touch the root of the shopaholic problem either! So I think it can be one approach, but not the only one.

2. "Shop your stash!" method as recommended by steepsterite Erin.

Erin said this approach is pretty much from her hobby of cosmetics collection. I have similar experience. Several years ago, there was half a year that I didn't have any income and used up all my savings taking my parents to travel around the northeastern states when they came all the way from China to attend my commencement. Then I knew I had to cut off my spending on skincare and cosmetics. It was then that I realized how much I had stocked up! In fact, my stock pile supplied me all the way through the first two years of my new job. When I used up full size products, I pool small samples of the same kind in empty jars and they supplied me for almost another full year!

Sometimes you just don't realize how much you've already stocked up. Pretty much the same for tea and many other things! "Shop your stash" makes you recognize how much you've already got, and how much in your stock is not put in use yet.

Besides, as we know, owning nice things often brings us feeling of satisfaction - not that it's good, but ah human weakness... :-p Going through your collection could feel like a general going by parades of his soldiers. When you enjoy the satisfaction by going over what you've already got, you may not need to gain satisfaction from immediate shopping. Needless to say, the former satisfaction doesn't cost you anything!

3. "Keep track of your spending" as recommended by steepsterite MadelineAlyce. She also recommended this smart phone App. "loot" which is free and can track your expenses.

I'm very reluctant to spend the time tracking my spending though. I guess it depends on how easy it is to track it and how bad the problem is :-p

4. Don't shop, swap!

Tea swap not only brings you new tea, but also friendly communication. And it barely costs anything. It's also a way to get rid of teas that you dislike but are too good to just throw away.

5. Draw a clear line between the degree of purchase and the degree of appreciation.

This is quite obvious, however, sometimes ignored. Many tea drinkers, especially new tea drinkers, are eager to learn more about tea. That's what's unique about tea. It's not only a beverage, but also a culture. However, in modern life, things are much easier to obtain, even when they are from the other end of the earth. Then sometimes we can easily fall into the consumption loop and deviate from our original pursuit. This doesn't just happen in tea. My photographer friends often rant about how often conversations about photography deviate toward discussion on equipment (expensive camera, expensive lens, etc.). Consumption is always easy, and people tend to fall into it.

Although tasting tea is one of the most important approaches of learning about tea, it's not always true that "the more (expensive) you taste/buy, the more you learn". There are other learning approaches that can be well combined with tea tasting, and that cost little. Reading is an excellent one. 

In addition, here is a side story. Long time ago, I always assumed those who grew up in families carrying tea business for generations must have had the most prestigious tea since they were toddlers. Then, what I've heard from quite a few such people is quite the contrary. All of them told me most of the tea they had in their childhood was of much lower grades than consumed by average tea drinkers. (However lower grade tea is not necessarily poor tea, and I have some examples here.) There is thrifty factor in it. But more importantly, to learn about tea, it could be very important to start from the basic. A friend from a oolong business family told me, she started drinking tea at the age of 5, but before she was 9, all she had was all sorts of "debris of tea". And then she started drinking tea of slightly higher grades, and then even slightly higher grades... Her grandpa used to tell her, people who only drink high grade tea (for example the emperors) would be able to tell great tea from poor tea, but that's all. Only people who have experience with tea of different grades can develop the capability of recognizing subtle features of tea of various types and various grades. Of course this is about the training of a tea professional, and we don't have to follow that path by spending a lot of time drinking debris of tea or low grade tea. But I believe such stories tell us that learning is not always from buying more tea and buying more expensive tea. Of course from time to time we can still pamper ourselves by getting excellent teas. But let's face it, it's consumption, not learning :-p

6. Shift your time and attention from consumption onto creation/production.

Here, production doesn't necessarily mean heavy labor or complicated work. And creation doesn't necessarily mean professional level artistic work. For example, taking photos of your tea or tea ware and make them into Christmas card is sort of small production. It may not serve the human society in large, but it serves your family well. Similarly, writing a blog is a small creation. It may not be that meaningful to other people, but could mean a lot to you if you keep doing it!

As a person with slight obsessive tendency, here is what I think - if you have to be obsessive on something, try to be obsessive on production behaviors rather than consumption behaviors. Not that obsessions are good, but some are worse than others!

Now, what are your tips and thoughts about dealing with compulsive shopping?

Mar 8, 2012

what do you think about tea-of-month club?

I want to ask this question to all of you, because so far I haven't got it yet what product-of-month club means for tea.

I have an impression/guess that the product-of-month club originates from the business of gourmet coffee. For coffee, I can better understand the merits of such a project. I myself am not too picky on the freshness of coffee bean. But I know some coffee aficionados would only use beans that have been roasted within the past few weeks, and would keep the beans in a freezer to retain its freshness. So I guess a big incentive of coffee-of-month club is getting freshly roasted coffee each month. Similar merit doesn't seem to exist in tea.

My thoughts on business are largely based on my own shopping experience and shopping preferences. Inevitably, my thoughts are somehow restricted by my own experience. So I would love to hear from more people what they think about tea-of-month club.

Here are my thoughts -
1. It's a way of giving buyers royalty reward. If someone participates in a tea-of-month club, that means she would buy at least 12 shipments of products each year, and therefore, this program recognizes the most enthusiastic buyers and can possibly use member-only prices or other means to reward them.

However, as a buyer, I would rather have a reward program that tracks the total amount of purchase or the total number of purchase and enjoy discounts accordingly.

That being said, I could see that with all the shipments scheduled at the same time each month, and amount of sales planned ahead of time, it's almost like a group purchase, and saves the buyer a lot of time, labor and operational costs. Therefore, there is greater potential for discount, compared with other reward programs. So this is the biggest advantage I could see from tea-of-month club so far.

2. The buyer can get diverse products from month to month.

However, this is not so big an advantage in my eyes, because as a shopaholic, I would rather pick diverse products whenever I want, instead of on a monthly schedule.

3. The buyer doesn't have to worry about re-ordering, and tea will be delivered monthly.

However, this would be almost a disadvantage for buyers of my style. It almost feels as if the fun of shopping is taken away. I know a famous socks website does this scheduled delivery thing with great success. But that's sock, something you have to buy but would rather not spend too much time on. (Besides most of their buyers are busy, mid-aged males anyway.) But the fun of shopping often lies on things that you do NOT have to buy but would rather spend time on, even if it's just window shopping. For many tea lovers, tea shopping falls in this category, right?

1. Lack of flexibility on the buyer's end about what to obtain each month. What if it's a tea the buyer is not thrilled about?

This problem can be to some degree solved if the program is like a gift card program that the members pay for the tea-of-month club but pick whatever they want each month by themselves. But then, the club will not be very different from other types of royalty rewarding programs.

2. Delivery costs. Since there will be 12 deliveries each month, even if the shipping is said to be free, the cost must be from the buyers (either included in the price or in other forms) eventually. When shopping online, many people would plan carefully and buy the optimal amount each time, so that they don't have to pay for multiple shipments. Many people don't buy from one online store every month. Nowadays shipping is expensive, and I am sure USPS will raise prices again (if not again and again) in the next 2-3 years.

3. Because of the above mentioned delivery costs, it's most likely that only domestic buyers can enjoy such a program.

From the above "however's", probably you can tell I'm not too excited about tea-of-month club. But as I said, my vision is largely constrained by my own experience. So I would love to learn what YOU think about tea-of-month club!