A 'Oolong Drunk' Expose: The Authenticity of the Social Media Tea Farmer
You can’t necessarily believe everything you read on the internet, and when it comes to tea, there is no exception to this rule. This became true when I got presented evidence from ‘Machine Gun Kelly’. For the purpose of this article, MGK requested that his real identity be kept anonymous.
“You know, these tea-farmer accounts on Instagram that has thousands of followers. They present their profile in a way that makes you believe that they’re actual tea farmers, when actually, they’re reselling from TaoBao,” according to MGK.
With these allegations, MGK showed me exact listings from several prominent tea farmer influencer Instagram accounts, along with one tea vendor. When showing me comparisons from TaoBao listings to their own, it proved that the product photos at hand are copied from Taobao. For reference, ‘TaoBao’ is a China-exclusive online retailer, and is the eighth most visited website globally according to the Alexa Rank.
The four accounts that have evidence against them are @TeaFarmerLin, @TeaFarmerBruce, @TeaFarmerGirl, and Crafted Leaf Teas.
I was then shown where ‘Crafted-Leaf Teas’ copied a product photo from TaoBao, which is a tea listed for around $6.00 USD for a pound. This particularly hit home, as I had bought 50 grams of this tea from for $20.00 UDS. If they really got their tea from this TaoBao vendor, this means I bought this tea from Crafted-Leaf Teas at 3,900% mark-up.
When reaching out to the accused for comment, only Tea Farmer Girl responded. “Some Taobao are ours, and some TaoBao good come from the same factory as ours — all of which are product information provided by the factory,” she stated.
However, when looking, the TaoBao accounts come from a Chinese tea warehouse.
This is damning.
Tea Farmer Girl's admission to this means two things: These accounts are price-gouging the same product for their Western-Facing audience. This also means that they’re not really tea farmers.
Lets put this in perspective: China has their own internet that’s specific to them. To be able to run a Western-facing shop, you would have to use a VPN to bypass the Chinese government's restrictions. Given that a lot of Chinese farmers do not live in cities, the likelihood of a farmer owning advanced enough technology to operate a western-facing online retail shop on a larger scale while bypassing the Chinese government is not likely.
However, most vendors rely on wholesalers to some extent or another. Not one person or one entity can do everything. However, most vendors don’t copy-and-paste the exact same photo and price their tea at 3,900% mark-up.
That still leaves the question: Are these ‘tea farmer’ accounts authentic, or are they just fantasy?
That’s for you to decide….
Posts regarding tea from Crafted Leaf Teas has since been removed from my social media, as I no longer associate with them for allegedly selling me tea at 3,900% mark-up.
@TeaFarmerLin, @TeaFarmerBruce, and Crafted Leaf Teas have yet to respond for comment.
~The Oolong Drunk