I can’t recall who introduced me to the idea that there are people who allegedly have “more money than sense.” But it was a phrase that came to mind, some months back, when I wrote an article that examined (and questioned) the notion of paying $1,000 for a cup of tea.
I should note that I’m never one to rant against the notion of expensive tea – at least not in theory. In fact, in these very pages, I have often encouraged the noble reader not to skimp on their tea spending and I have attempted to explain that when you break down the economics of an expensive tea it might not be as expensive as you thought.
It’s a good bet that you’re not going to gets Rolls Royce tea at a Chevette price. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that expensive tea is great – or even good – tea and there might occasionally be vendors who will try to pass off Chevette tea at Rolls Royce prices. But I’m digressing just a bit, as this article is primarily intended to focus on $1 million tea.
If you do the math, you might conclude that if I was out of sorts about $1,000 tea then I’d be 1,000 times as out of sorts about $1 million tea. But it’s not quite that simple. As this recent article notes, the tea in question is a compressed “brick” that dates back to the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Which means that it has some historical interest, regardless of whether or not the purchaser bought it to drink.
Which is a fair enough assumption, actually, although the article doesn’t weigh in on whether the buyer is planning to drink it. I don’t claim any expertise in puerh, but certain types of this tea do improve with age and so this one could theoretically be quite a find. Whether it’s worth the $1.24 million that the new owner plunked down is anybody’s guess.
Going back to the economics of tea again, let’s speculate that said brick weighs a pound (the weight wasn’t mentioned). Let’s further assume two steeps of the leaves per serving, which is conservative for many puerh drinkers. That would result in about 400 cups of tea. Which is still about $3,100 per cup. Which seems like a lot more than any tea could possibly be worth.
But if the new owner would like to shave off a small sample and send it my way I’d be glad to give it a try.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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