I'm proud of my teapots and my puer. Even the puer cakes that I know are not very good have a place on my tea shelf. I'm sure every puer collector must, for one reason or another, purchase bad tea. I've even heard the venerable MarshalN refer to this concept as the collector's "tuition." Looking at, and organizing, my teapots and my puer brings me pleasure and I feel they are worth every penny.
That being said, I've really put on the breaks lately when it comes to collecting tea and teaware. Inspired in part by books such as Radical Homemakers, The Urban Homestead, and Simplicity Parenting, my wife and I have been on our own journey towards self reliance, simplification, and community building. Mainly we are doing little things like getting to know our neighbors, producing more of our own food, and limiting (sometimes easier said than done) our own and our children's screen time. We're not interested in living entirely "off the grid," instead we're just trying to be more conscious of where our money is going and focus most of our efforts on building a happy and fulfilling home life. Buying "stuff," especially when we can make it ourselves, barter for it, or simply "do without," no longer seems to fit with our lifestyle.
This doesn't mean I'll ever stop buying new tea and teaware. I'll still occasionally treat myself to small quantities of seasonal tea when money allows. It just means that I won't be impulsive (also easier said than done), and I'll only buy new or used things when I need to replace something else and I can't figure out a free way to acquire them.
My tea friend J. (first mentioned in my 2009 Gratitude post) once told me, "You know you've made it when you don't have to buy your own tea anymore." He alluded to his father in Taiwan whose friends and family give him more than enough great tea. He can drink all he wishes and re-gift any surplus. I want to be more like J's father in that respect. I hope that the more I write about tea, share homegrown produce, and help out my friends and neighbors the more great tea and teaware will come my way.