During the 19th century, the phrase 'the price of tea in China' was commonly used to mean that an irrelevant topic has been introduced in a conversation. The question itself - what is the actual price of tea in China, has often remained unanswered. If you have often heard this phrase and wondered whether there is any information about how much tea costs in the land where the Great Wall was built, read on to find more.
Chinese tea is a savored drink not only where it originates, but also throughout the rest of the world. Many Chinese restaurants around the globe serve a cup either as a complimentary drink or as a special item on the menu. Do they all buy the tea at the same price? The short answer is 'no'. The pricing of tea depends on several factors, with the final price of tea in China varying from $10 to more than $1000 for 500 grams (approximately 16 ounces).
Primarily, the price of tea in China is determined by the parameters outlined below.
Chinese tea could be categorized primarily into five types, namely, Black tea, Green tea, White tea, Puerh tea, and Oolong tea. The types differ in color, flavor, origin, aging, and processing. Needless to say, the pricing of these different types also vary. While white and oolong tea could be more expensive than the black and green categories, with Puerh tea often being the costliest, there is more to tea valuation than the basic color and flavor the leaves impart to the boiling water. Typically, you could get a standard 500-gram pack of black tea for $20 while you might have to spend an exorbitant $40 plus for the same amount of oolong tea.
A lot goes into the cultivation of tea, hence there are variations in quality caused by environmental and other farming factors. Ultimately, the quality of tea leaves plays a major role in the valuation of tea in China.
A few aspects that separate a bunch of good quality leaves from the rest include the look of the leaves, the size of the leaves, and the flavor and the color the leaves impart to the final product after processing. Tea of average quality could be purchased for as low as $20 per 500 grams, while for the finest quality, you might have to shell out thousands of dollars for the same quantity.
As with anything else, the valuation of tea in China also factors in the demand and supply chains. Some types of tea are available throughout the year in bulk, while some others, such as the Puerh tea, is available only in smaller quantities. Due to the high demand and low supply of such kinds of tea, their price touches the ceiling. Many consumers begin hoarding such kinds of tea, enabling the prices to skyrocket further.
It is not just whiskey or wine that sees an increase in the price when aged well. The same condition applies to Chinese tea, too. Considering the same example of Puerh tea, some of the varieties are highly sought after when they have been fermented to the right degree and have been aged over years, in turn increasing their price. They require delicate handling and storing, too, further contributing to their incredible costs.
Because they are fermented, such kinds of tea are usually sold in small bricks that are also known as tea lumps, tea cakes, or tea nuggets. Be prepared to burn a hole in your pocket to pay thousands of dollars for a small brick of this coveted kind of tea.
Tea in China is about so much more than just flavor. There are folklores associated with different varieties of tea, and some of these stories are thousands of years old. There are different sagas behind different varieties of tea served to different emperors in the history of China. All of these factors contribute to some types of tea being more popular than the others, thus increasing their market price.
The popularity of tea in China is also determined by the season when the leaves are plucked. For instance, the Qingming Festival, which sees the onset of spring in China, is a time when tea leaves are picked with white fuzz on them. These leaves are more popular than those that are picked towards the end of the season.
Any organic farming is expensive, and organic Chinese tea cultivation is no exception. Organic tea in China is typically more expensive than the non-organic varieties owing to the use of controlled, natural farming techniques as well as chemical-free processing and storage. You could end up spending more than $50 on bulk-sized, average quality organic Chinese tea.
The price of tea in China is not always about the quality or the quantity of tea. The economy of the country plays a significant part in deciding the valuation of tea. In a flourishing Chinese economy, it is easier to get good quality tea at a lower price than during an economic crisis. If you are visiting China, and just wish to get some tea packets back home as souvenirs for friends and family, ensure you study the present economic condition of the country. Otherwise, your purse strings might have to significantly loosen up for a packet of tea than they would have in more favorable times.
If you are an avid lover of the aroma that tea brings into your life, you probably already are aware that a perfect cup is not about getting the caffeine-induced kick in the morning. A quality cup of tea is about relishing the priceless originality that each sip brings afresh. Fortunately, there is just the right blend of Chinese tea waiting for every kind of budget.
On the other hand, if your knowledge about the world of tea is limited, and you simply wish to explore further, Chinese tea is a great place to start. When you hold that fragrant, steaming cup to your lips and take that first sip bursting with flavors, the phrase 'price of tea in China' does not remotely seem to represent an irrelevant topic anymore.