As a teablogger, I feel it's my responsibility to talk about the good, the bad and the surreal when it comes to tea. So here goes.
Last week, a letter from the Deutsche Post arrived and I was simultaneously pleased and perplexed by news of an unexpected package from China. I get plenty of tea and tea writing to try (and potentially review), so that part didn't surprise me. But as far as I could tell this package was unannounced. I couldn't remember anyone telling me this one was on its way.
Well, anytime I receive anything in Beamtendeutsch (bureaucratic German), I get nervous. But for a document of this sort, this one was actually rather straightforward.
'We're holding your undeclared package for you,' they assure me. 'In order to get through customs, the value of the package has to be displayed on the outside of the package.' They provide their hours and location...it's in Garching! Garching? That's nowhere near where I live. Not remotely.
That's quite a trek for me to be able to tell them, 'It's an unsolicited gift of tea and I have no idea the value.'
But I digress.
They inform me that they'll hold my package for 14 days, and then it's back to wherever it came from. When you read a warning like this from a German office, you take it seriously. 15 days? It'll almost definitely be gone.
Later in the document, it says that they charge €.50 per day for holding my tea. Holding my gift tea (that I hadn't asked for) hostage, I might add. And I have the honour of paying for it. Did I mention surreal? Oh wait...if it's less than €5, they'll waive the charge. That's what I call incentive to resolve this immediately. Well, that and there's gift tea involved.
They provide a checklist for what I need when I trudge all the way out to godforsaken Garching, and I don't like the looks of this at all.
a. invoice/proof of payment (it's a gift-that's why it's called gift tea. How on earth will I manage this?)
b. any pertinent documents (what's pertinent in this case? shall I list all the fictional people who might've sent me tea?)
c. cold hard cash for Customs (like you didn't see that coming)
d. any additional documents as a result of this process (they think of everything...these bureaucrats)
I'm told I can send a Vertreter (someone in my stead), which is all well and good. Can you imagine that conversation?
me: 'Hey! I want you to go to Garching and pick up a package of gift tea for me, ok?'
my imaginary Vertreter: 'Uh, ok. That sounds a bit suspect...are you sure this is all legal?'
So I guess you can see why I'm not sending someone there for me.
Then the document continues: 'In the event you can't/we can't verify all of this info, we offer the following services...' My ears perk up. Here it comes...'Send us the necessary documents or an explanation and we'll take care of everything.'
Pay dirt. This is what I wanted to hear. They'll take care of everything. Then they say something indecipherable about how far the Deutsche Post office is from the Customs office, but by this time I'm not even paying attention.
They're going to take care of everything. No worrying over here.
I send in my 'It's gift tea that I didn't know about and I don't know how much it's worth...please send it to me soon, though' explanation. That's all that was necessary. Yesterday, the package arrived at my front door.
Turns out I did know of this shipment of tea, but had forgotten about it entirely. It's from Teavivre and I can assure you I'm going to talk much more about this company. Here's how attractive their very practical packages are:
The last thing on the form is really the most practical thing I learned from this whole experience. The document states in bold!:
Please inform anyone outside of the EU that anything sent here should prominently display an invoice on the outside of the package. In most cases when this is done correctly, such packages can be delivered more easily directly to your door.
That's good to know, isn't it? Don't ever let it be said that this very whimsical teablog doesn't sometimes provide a bit of useful knowledge. There's your knowledge for the next little while.
But then I turned the package to the side, and what did I see? Here's what I saw: