Tea Pricing – What Makes Tea Expensive, Part 2

Remember, I’ve been telling you about a very cheap Chinese green tea, and a very expensive Chinese green tea, in part 1 of this article. Also, I said that just like with precious stones or metals “rareness”, or the absence of the same, for that matter, is the decisive factor for the price of a tea. Let us now have a closer look at what could be the differences between the very cheap and the very expensive Chinese green tea, apart from their taste, which will hardly justify a price difference of nearly $750.00US.

Tea gardens stretching to the horizon. (Photo source: stock image)
Tea gardens stretching to the horizon. (Photo source: stock image)

I have a picture in front of my inner eye showing the place, where the above-mentioned cheap Chinese green tea comes from. The picture shows enormously wide flat land tea gardens in some lower plains of mainland China. I am standing right in the middle, and these tea gardens are reaching beyond the visible horizon in each direction I turn. I see large harvesting machines driving through them, row by row, cutting off the upper 10 cm of the tea plants’ branches. The same machines are spitting their load into another huge machine that cuts everything to what are going to call “broken” tea. Later, this tea will be shipped to destinations all over the world by container loads, and then end up in the said Asia food store chain, and finally in the kitchen cabinet of some unsuspecting house wife, where at least most of it will most probably stay forever.

Now, here’s the corresponding picture for $US750.00 / 100g Chinese green tea. This is my inner eye, not Google Maps, so I can’t say for sure, but this must be the Wuji Mountains, located in China’s Fujian province, the place you could just as well call the cradle of tea. My location is elevated, I can see over mountains and valleys, and right next to me is a wonderful tea garden, small, but exclusive, and actually, if I knew better than I do, then I would know that this is actually a tea garden of worldwide fame within the excusive scene of high level tea connoisseurs. Due to the altitude, only one harvest a year is possible. Also due to the cool and rough climate, the tea bushes are not really driving leaves and shoots in abundance. When it comes to the time of that one harvest a year, no machines, but experienced tea pickers, under the close supervision of the tea garden’s operator / tea master himself, are checking from plant to plant, day by day, assessing the maturity of every single tea plant and even branch, before cutting off the upper 2 leaves and top shoot of a branch only. After the masterful processing and drying of the whole leaves, and another thorough selection process, this tea won’t need a container, but will be sent by mail to those, who know how to appreciate the value of this tea, probably mostly people, who can also afford it.

As for us, said average human beings, how far should we go in regard to paying high prices for tea? Very simple, as far as the difference in assessable taste will be in a reasonable relation to what we pay for a tea. While it won’t have to be a very rare tea, and you might not have to know the name of the tea garden, or the tea master, factors such as harvesting and processing by hand, leaves quality, harvesting season, and other benefits of a more individual tea production as opposed to mass tea production are definitely making differences that we will be able to tell, and that we will be able to enjoy.

See more of  Thomas Kasper’s articles here.

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