Thank you for your patience!


I was so happy to see the shipment finally, after 5 months of odyssey, reach the EU border. After the customs taking almost 4 weeks to finally get to checking the shipment, we were hit by yet another major setback: As our tea was not enough to hit the minimum 250 kg mark for train freight, I joined forces with two other tea dealers, who added some of their goods. I made two fatal errors: I offered to send all on one trade invoice and I did not warn them strongly enough about how fiercly the EU customs are known to check for pesticides.

The Polish customs tested one single box, one of my fellow importers’ boxes, on pesticides – and hit the jackpot: a small sample batch of a tea my colleagues had ordered that definitely did not stem from the plantation it supposed to stem from and was definitely not safe for import. The customs left me with two options – sending back the whole shipment or destroying it. As it’s all on one import bill, there is no way of seperating it.

It’s now in Polish border customs, trying to get it imported via Ukraine. Let’s see.

Therefore, I offer all of those who pre-ordered a full refund if requested, just hit me up. If you choose to wait, I will reward your help with a big thank you package though.

A quick recap of what happened, for those interested to understand the situation and for me to avoid such situations next time:

  • After finding out air freight is almost completely down due to Corona and is at 16 to 20 Euros per kg plus fees and taxes, I decided that’s not an option. Sea freight won’t guarantee that the tea is not getting far too hot (already longer durations at 50-60 degrees Celsius can alter the taste of tea majorly) and nobody shares a temperature controlled container with a stranger. So I chose train freight and looked for a suitable company for a bit. All this cost the first 2-3 weeks.

  • The first carrier (a smaller German company) I found proved so useless that when they after more than a month after the initially set date the goods were still not picked up, I cancelled the contract. That cost 5 weeks at least. First two months done

  • I wasted another week finding another carrier

  • The next firm I found at first seemed very knowledgeble about the problems tea might pose at the customs, found good ways around potential issues with the Polish customs, but then problems started. Getting answers from them took a week and more, initially sent requests which papers need to be added were were altered several times, wasting 2-3 weeks just through poor communication, especially of changed Chinese export rules.

  • When the shipment had finally been picked up I realized my exporter had not used the exact list of goods I had provided him with but a list of descriptions he had found on the packages with prices that were wild estimates. Another week lost.

  • When making the contract, the carrier had told me they have several trains a week going towards Europe and shpping would be fast, so I had hoped shipping would happen as soon as possible after arrival of the goods at the company’s storage. When I after two weeks, last Wednesday, I contacted them about the exact arrival time, they told me it would be shipped on Friday. Two weeks lost just sitting around at the yard.

  • Then, believing it was shipped already, I was once again shocked to hear it still hadn’t – when trying to ship it, they had figured out that the export papers, that are only valid for a short amount of time, had expired. Most of the paperwork has to be done again, next shipping date is set to July 30th.

  • Well and then, when finally everything was supposed to go out, they realised that the export customs office in Chongqing – where the goods had been stored for more than 3 weeks – was not allowing any foodstuffs. So it was, once again, pulled very last minute and we were told it would go from Hefei “in hopefully maximum 2 weeks”. I was told this, again, after believing the tea was on it’s way for 3 days already. After complaining a lot, they found a slot to ship it “only” another week later and now, on August 11th.

  • The train got stuck in Belarus due to the protests there for almost a week – now the goods are in the Warsaw customs

  • The customs office on the Belarus – Polish border seemed to be totally overworked when trade set in again – it took them 4 weeks until they managed to check our shipment.

  • Out of the whole shipment, they chose to take only one small sample to chemically analyse. Out of 22 different teas, of which 19 were either from my two producers I trust since more than 10 years, as none of the sample tests of their products I did every year ever showed the slightest traces of pollution of any sort and two had added chemical analyses accompanying them, they chose the small 22nd box a friend had bought as a test buy from a new farmer who had shown him a perfectly clean and natural plantation last year. This tea proved to clearly not be from that plantation. It had three pesticides showing values over EU legal limits.

  • The customs decided to send back the shipment, but it never arrived. After a month wasted, I found out that the Chinese business partner of our shipping company had written my exporter a brief message “You will possibly receive the following goods within the next week, please prepare for import formalities…” – and as he thought that was only a message and didn’t reply (they had been in contact over that number before), the Chinese carrier told their European counterpart “We tried to reach the Chinese importer twice, he does not answer”. The shipment had all the time stayed in Polish customs storage.

  • Since then, we are trying to figure out a way to import the tea into Ukraine, the next somewhat stable non-EU country, get new papers for it and try to send it back to the EU border once again. Not the easiest task neither, as three different people first told me they could help but then couldn’t and communication with all parties involved has been more than slow.

  • For more than one month the Polish customs has now blocked – without a stated reason, just by massively delaying answers to any requests – to produce the needed transit papers to get the tea into Ukraine

All the best and good tea drinking


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