A Tea Addict's Journal

Taobao price controls

January 3, 2021 · 5 Comments

I was just randomly browsing through Taobao the other day, looking to maybe buy a couple cakes of those mid-2000s Dayi that I finished up during the pandemic. Except, they’re all gone, and the seller that I bought them from no longer sells any Dayi of any kind. This was unusual, since he used to have quite a few of them and it’s unlikely he’s sold out of all. Now his store only sells stuff like Nanqiao… and nobody wants to buy mid-2000s Nanqiao when Dayi is only a little more expensive.

So I DMed the guy and asked what was happening. Turns out, recently something was going on and Dayi basically managed to get Taobao to kick off all these small time tea sellers selling Dayi. Now when you search for Dayi, the only people who sell them on Taobao are the official stores, and at prices that are way higher than what was possible only a few months ago. If you look for, say, 7542 from 10+ years ago, you get less than 20 hits. Previously, you’ll get literally endless pages of the stuff. Granted, there was a fair amount of fakes in there, and you have to be careful, but there were also lots of sellers selling real tea among them. Now they’re all gone. I can still get the tea from the guy I DMed if I want, but that’s not really something you can do if you don’t know Chinese or if you don’t already know who has the good stuff.

This means that if you are bargain hunting on Taobao, that door has just closed. It’s possible to find older teas from small producers that could be good, but those are a real lottery ticket and it’s very risky to do so. If you just want some cheap Dayi, chances are finding a vendor who is located in Guangdong and has physical access to a place like Fangcun is now the better bet.

This is a troubling development. It’s probably done in the name of protecting the brand and to kick out counterfeit goods, but also ends up stopping people from undercutting officially set prices. So, just know that if you now go on Taobao to check prices… what you see is not what really happens in the market place. A lot of these teas from the big brands are being traded at a level lower than what you see on retail there. You can go to www.donghetea.com or something like that to check wholesale prices, but that still doesn’t give you access to the retail market unless you already know someone who’s there.

Categories: Teas
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5 responses so far ↓

  • SA // January 4, 2021 at 1:05 am | Reply

    Taobao searching requires a user log-in now, and US-based IPs are getting randomly kicked.

  • Karl Drewke // January 4, 2021 at 12:16 pm | Reply

    As you mentioned in an earlier blog, there are lots of Dayi teas from 10+ years ago out there in people’s hands. How do you think this will effect pricing and the ability of people holding these teas for investment to resell them and where?

  • Balthazar // January 26, 2021 at 1:55 pm | Reply

    The same thing has been happening with Anhua Heicha (another category of teas I dabble in), at least for the larger brands. For these teas, better deals can be had from Malaysian vendors than from official TB-stores. As for factory puer with a bit of age, I guess Taiwanese auctions are the last open door for most of us, unless one has personal connections…

  • ikcti // February 8, 2021 at 10:09 am | Reply

    Unfortunate that they are now pursuing price controls on their goods. On the other hand, would you say that this means that the chances of buying fakes are significantly lower on Taobao now?

    • MarshalN // February 10, 2021 at 12:17 am | Reply

      You could always go to a TMall shop for that previously anyway, and if you have some experience spotting fakes wasn’t too difficult. Now it’s impossible to find good bargains

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