Doing another Ulumochi post, OG post can be found here
If you are looking for sage wisdom, you may not find it here. That said, I personally found this comparison somewhat entertaining.
Recalling a time my sister visited and gave me orchids:
Me: Coming to visit and seeing you is enough, why did you bring flowers? Ya coulda just given me the cash instead!
Sister: Jeez, talking about money like that is so tacky! Gifting flowers is much better than giving somebody money…
Me: I guess I’m a bit tacky then, eh? Give these flowers maybe a month or two tops and they’ll start to wilt – Honestly gifting a tree seems more practical, it’ll last forever!
Sister: Brother you just don’t get it, there’s deep meaning behind flowers!
Me: What kind of deep meaning?
Sister: When you give somebody flowers, they’re beautiful! Everybody can see that.
Me: See what?
Sister: See my sincerity! See, everybody around today can see the flowers I’ve given you. It shows that the money has been spent in the right place! If you gift a tree, just a little tree, it won’t even look pretty – If you leave it in a corner on your patio, nobody can see that sincerity. Once you’ve waited a few years, that expresses your work and effort, not mine. In the end, everybody would forget that your tree originally was gifted by me, My sincerity won’t be seen. In that case, my money is more of an unrecognized investment!
Me: I suppose you’re right, but what do you make of all this after the flowers have wilted and died?
Sister: Once the flowers die that’s on you. However you want to put it, once they’re dead I’ve already expressed my sincerity. People can see that. As for after the flowers die, nobody’s going to see them if you’ve gotten rid of them. If you can’t see them there’s no problem…
Me: But I like trees…
Sister: What does you liking trees have to do with me…The money is mine and spent how I wanted, used to express what I wanted in this situation. If you like trees, go buy one yourself!
Planting Trees and Buying Flowers
I don’t oppose using one’s tastes to collect teas, of course not! Tea is something we buy personally to drink. What would be the point of buying teas we don’t personally like? It’s just that I think that the majority of those who claim to be collecting according to taste are actually first relying on how deep/shallow their pockets are. Price is the first requirement – If the price is met, then most people start actually talking about buying according to taste.
On this topic, relying on one’s pockets to collect tea is not wrong; after all, the number of folks with piles of money laying around for the hobby is relatively low. Most of us are just regular chumps, and our allowances have limits. Tea, this sort of item, isn’t a necessity for regular folks: Why put oneself through worries like economic troubles for something like tea?
Even though I don’t oppose buying strictly based on one’s tastes, I also don’t oppose buying based on one’s pockets. So…what do I oppose?
I think back to the old days of the DPP (民進黨)* and the words once uttered by Huang Xinjie: If the DPP really wanted Taiwanese independence, they would have to act rather than just say it. As for the KMT (國民黨) and their reunification, well this sort of thing can be spoken of but not really acted upon.
It’s the same logic here: “Collecting tea based on taste can be done, but not spoken.” Once you’ve said it (announced it), it’s very easy to accidentally lead astray newer tea enthusiasts, making them think they should pick up anything so long as it seems right without discretion of quality.
As for buying with one’s pockets, it similarly can be done but not said. If you say it aloud, you may lose face.
Why should “collecting by taste” be done and not said? Collecting tea requires a discussion of conditions. First of all, one must have seen many, many teas, as well as seen a wide variety of different teas. Only after having tried many teas, and many different varieties of teas, can one have an idea of how to categorize the aging prospects of different teas. Only with experience can one reduce the likelihood of buying the “wrong” tea.
Some people may say: “What’s the point of trying all that tea? It’s just drinking tea; of course, you ought to be buying things you actually like, are you trying to poison yourself with obviously bitter and terrible teas through some forced masochistic act?”
I can’t really say that they’re wrong here; after all, some people like planting trees, and some people like buying flowers. If you like looking at a tree you’ve personally potted and planted, watching it slowly grow through tender trimming and care, well go on ahead and plant one. If you wish to immediately see the sincerity of how you spend your money and see beautiful flowers flourishing in the moment, buy some flowers.
*The DPP (民進黨) and KMT (國民黨) are the primary parties of Taiwan. The DPP has been known for supporting Taiwanese independence. The KMT, especially in the first few decades after the civil war, supported a policy of reunifying China (of course their idea was to reinstate themselves as the legitimate leadership rather than the CCP)