Have you ever noticed that some tea is more expensive than others? There are several reasons that can contribute to the high cost of some types of tea, so grab a brew and some of your favourite biscuits and take a dive with us into some of the most expensive teas in the world.
Here are some of the reasons why your cuppa may cost a pretty penny:
Rarity: Some types of tea are rare and can only be grown in specific regions or climates, or only during certain times of the year. The limited supply of these teas can drive up their prices quite significantly!
Quality: The highest quality teas are often hand-picked and processed using traditional methods, which can be time-consuming and require a high level of skill. This can increase the cost of production and result in a higher price for the tea.
Processing: Some types of tea, such as matcha or jasmine pearls tea, require complex and time-consuming processing methods. This can include shading the tea plants, steaming, hand rolling, or blending the tea leaves with other expensive ingredients. These additional processing steps can easily contribute to the tea's overall price, but boy don’t they make some exquisite blends!
Origin: The region where the tea is grown can also affect its price. For example, teas grown in high-altitude areas may be more expensive due to the difficult growing conditions and the limited supply of tea produced in those regions.
Packaging and presentation: The way the tea is packaged and presented can also affect its price. High-quality teas may be packaged in decorative or unique containers, or sold in limited edition packaging, which can really drive up the price.
Take a peek into the Top 10 world's most expensive teas:
Da-Hong Pao Tea - this oolong tea is grown in the Wuyi Mountains, an area in China with unique rocky terrain and mineral-rich soil, giving the rare tea a mix of rich nutty, floral and fruity flavour with a sweet and smooth aftertaste. Da-Hong Pao Tea is picked by hand and processed using traditional methods, which involve withering, rolling, and roasting the leaves to create the complex and rich flavour. This oolong tea is often served during special occasions or given as a gift to show respect and appreciation. In 2018, a single kilogram of Da-Hong Pao sold for $1.2 million, slightly out of our teapigs Secret Santa budget unfortunately. I think we’ll stick to our tung ting oolong tea for now.
Panda Dung Tea - grown in the mountains of Sichuan province in China, despite its name and the use of panda dung as fertiliser, Panda Dung Tea does not contain any actual faecal matter. Phew. The dung is used solely as a natural fertiliser for the tea plants; its unique growing method gives the sweet tea a hint of bamboo fragrance. The leaves of Panda Dung Tea are hand-picked and processed using traditional methods, which involve withering, rolling, and oxidising the leaves to develop their flavour. In 2020, a pound of Panda Dung Tea sold for $3,500.
Tie Guan Yin - a high-quality oolong tea grown in the rocky and misty soil of Xiping, Gande, and Muzha, which are all located within the Fujian province of China. This tea has a floral and creamy taste with hints of orchid and honey. Tie Guan Yin tea is a partially oxidised oolong tea, which means it falls between green tea and black tea in terms of oxidation level. The leaves are hand-picked and then are processed by withering, shaking, oxidising, fixing, rolling, and roasting to achieve its distinctive flavour profile. This tea is often brewed using a traditional Chinese tea brewing method called "Gongfu Cha," which involves using a small teapot and multiple short infusions. One interesting fact about Tie Guan Yin tea is that it can be steeped multiple times, with each infusion bringing out different flavours and nuances from the leaves, making it a tea that can be enjoyed over several infusions. A kilogram of Tie Guan Yin can range from $300 to $1,500.
Pu-Erh Tea - We’ve got a bit of a theme here, this unique tea is made in Yunnan, China, and is fertilised with elephant dung. The fermentation process involves microbial activity that transforms the tea leaves, giving Pu-erh tea its characteristic earthy, musty, and sometimes woody flavours. Pu-erh tea is often compressed into (tea) cakes or bricks and allowed to age for several years or even decades, which can result in a deeper, richer flavour profile with increasing complexity. In 2019, a pound of Pu-Erh Tea sold for $10,000.
Gyokuro - This tea plant is kept nice and cosy with shade cloth to limit sunlight exposure, which slows down the growth of the leaves and encourages the development of desirable characteristics, such as a rich umami flavour, intense aroma, and high levels of chlorophyll. The shading process requires careful monitoring and precise control of temperature, humidity, and light levels. Only the tender, young leaves are hand plucked, as they contain the highest concentration of flavour. The leaves are then carefully processed using methods such as steaming, rolling, and drying to preserve their delicate flavour and aroma. The shading process and hand-picking of leaves makes the production of Gyokuro tea pretty labour-intensive and time-consuming, resulting in a limited supply and high price point. A pound of Gyokuro can cost around $200, not as high as some of the others mentioned, but making it up there with all these other unique expensive teas.
Yellow Gold Tea Buds - This golden brew is grown in Sichuan province in China. This is a rare tea, made from tea buds that are covered in tiny golden hairs. The buds are then withered, pan-fired to stop oxidation, and wrapped in special yellow cloth for a slow oxidation and fermentation process. Yellow tea is a rare and less commonly produced type of tea compared to your green, black, and oolong teas; and as you’d expect, this tea is sweet, floral, and mellow, with a smooth and lingering aftertaste. In 2017, a pound of Yellow Gold Tea Buds sold for $3,000.
Silver Tips Imperial Tea - Silver Tips Imperial Tea is a type of white tea that is covered in lots of little white silvery hairs, it is often considered a higher grade of Silver Tips tea. It is made from the young, tender buds of the tea plant, usually harvested in early spring when the buds are at their peak quality! The buds are carefully hand-plucked and processed with great attention to detail, resulting in a higher quality tea, producing a delicate, floral tea. A pound of Silver Tips Imperial Tea can cost around $500; don’t worry though, we have just the thing if you’re after a top notch quality white tea that's a bit more budget friendly.
Vintage Narcissus - a high-quality oolong tea that is aged for over 100 years, this helps to produce a tea with enhanced rich flavour; this one has notes of caramel, honey and orchid. Traditionally this tea is picked by skilled tea pickers who only pick the finest high quality leaves by hand. After harvesting, the tea gets processed and left to age depending on the desired flavour. In 2018, a pound of Vintage Narcissus sold for $6,500.
Jun Shan Yin Zhen - a highly prized, rare yellow tea grown on the beautiful and scenic Jun Shan Island in China. A tea considered to be a luxury and a collectible by tea enthusiasts all around the world. It is known for its sweet, nutty chestnut-like flavour and is produced by only using the buds of the tea plant! A pound of Jun Shan Yin Zhen can cost around $3,000.
Longjing (Dragon Well) - a high-quality green tea grown in the West Lake area of Hangzhou. The name "Dragon Well" comes from the legend about a dragon that lived in a well near a temple in Hangzhou, the dragon was said to control the rain and bring prosperity to the region! It has a nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours, most likely due to its traditional processing methods of being hand picked and pan fried! In 2021, a kilogram of Longjing tea sold for around $6,000. You may be pleased to know the teapigs Limited Edition Dragon Well brew did not cost that much, however as the name suggests, it was limited edition and is now completely out of stock. If you want us to get it back, you know what to do.
While it doesn't make the cut for the top 10 most expensive teas, we do have to mention this special brew, Jasmine Pearls. This high quality green tea is gently rolled into small pearls and left to infuse with jasmine flowers; but not just any old flowers, fresh jasmine flowers that have been picked at just the right time, (early morning when the flower is still closed) to ensure the best quality. These pretty little pearls are time consuming to make and require a lot of skill, but it's essential the right processing methods are used to create this tasty tea.
But what about Matcha? I hear you cry, let me tell you about our organic matcha too. Green tea that packs a punch. Grown in shaded areas, after hand picking the leaves, they are dried and very slowly ground by granite to a very fine powder using traditional stone mills. The fine powdery leaves are then packed and sealed immediately, locking in all the good stuff - antioxidants and nutrients that is. You know, the increasing popularity of matcha can also contribute to its price. As more people become interested in matcha for its health benefits and unique flavour, the demand for high-quality matcha increases, which can drive up the price. If you’re new to our premium matcha green tea, it comes in a few sizes, including sample sachet sized, so you can try the tasty green stuff without breaking the bank!