Be it China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Korea or others–tea is a beverage that’s loved by one and all. Here, we’ve listed the 10 most expensive teas across the world that you need to add to your collection. By Akriti Sharma
Tea is an intrinsic part of many cultures around the world and is regarded for its medicinal values. Its history goes back to around 2737 BC when Emperor Shen Nung of China stirred a few leaves in a pot of boiling water and had the first-ever cup of tea.
In today’s time, tea is perceived as a quintessential curative drink in countries such as China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. If you’re a tea lover, check out our list of the 10 most expensive teas in the world to add to your collection.
Da-Hong Pao Tea, China
Valued around a whopping $1.2 million per kg, Da-Hong Pao is the most expensive tea in the world. Grown in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province of China, it’s been declared a national treasure for its rarity. During former US President Nixon’s official visit to China, Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, gifted him 200 grams of this tea, symbolising peace and friendship between the two nations.
A type of oolong tea, its history goes back to the Ming dynasty. The name Da-Hong Pao translates to ‘Big Red Robe’ and legend has it that the Chinese emperor of the Ming Dynasty donated his robe to get a jar of this tea to help his ailing mother.
The best Da-Hong Pao tea comes from the mother trees, only six of which exist on Earth. Around 20 grams of the tea from the mother plants were sold for about $30,000 in 2005, making it the highest auction recorded ever.
Panda Dung Tea, China
The cultivation of Panda Dung tea uses Panda bear’s dung as fertiliser. This tea was first cultivated by An Yanshi, an entrepreneur in southwest China, who started using panda dung from nearby breeding centres as organic fertiliser and sold the first batch of this peculiar brew at around $3,500 for 50 grams.
Panda dung, with its high antioxidant content, is believed to have myriad health benefits. Panda Dung tea is sold at approximately $70,000 per kg.
Yellow gold tea buds, Singapore
Luxurious and rare, yellow gold tea buds are harvested once a year using gold shears and are sun-dried. The tea leaves are then sprayed with edible 24-karat gold flakes.
Living up to its name, it has a unique metallic and floral aftertaste and is known for its anti-ageing properties and other health benefits. It is currently sold only in Singapore by the TWG tea company. Known as the tea of the emperors of China, it is priced at around $7,800 per kg.
Silver tips Imperial tea, Darjeeling (India)
Plucked by expert pickers during full moon nights, this is a type of oolong tea harvested at the Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling. The tea comes from special buds, which look like silver needles and have a subtle fruity aroma. Its complex flavours include sharp notes of mango and frangipani. At an auction in 2014, the tea was sold at $1,850 per kg, making it the most expensive tea in India.
Considered one of the highest-grade green teas in Japan, Gyokuro translates to ‘pearl dew’ or ‘jade dew’, and is cultivated in the Uji district. Harvesting this tea requires growing it under the shade of straw mats for four weeks before the best tea leaves are picked. This process helps the plant retain L-theanine, an amino acid that heightens the umami flavours in the tea.
Gyokuro tea was first discovered by Kahei Yamamoto VI in 1835 and costs approximately $650 per kg.
Pu’erh Tea, China
Invented in the 18th Century, Pu’erh tea is considered to be the oldest, most refined and among the most expensive teas. The tea is usually sold in the form of tea cakes that can be brewed. This tea is known to aid in weight loss, cholesterol reduction and better gut health.
This tea, sold at approximately $10,000 per kilogram, is grown mostly in the Yunnan province in Southwest China, with some trees being thousands of years old. The microbial fermentation process is used to ferment the leaves. Legend has it that many wars were fought because of this tea in China’s history.
Tieguanyin Tea, China
One of the most highly regarded teas in the world, Tieguanyin tea is a type of oolong tea named in honour of the Buddhist deity Guan Yin, also known as the iron goddess of mercy.
The tea has a nutty flavour and floral aroma. It is grown in the highest regions of the Fujian province and leaves are sun-dried till crisp and bright golden. The price of this tea keeps increasing because of its rarity but is usually priced at about $3,000 per kg.
Vintage Narcissus Wuyi Oolong tea, China
Named after the Greek legend Narcissus, this rare oolong tea is grown and harvested on the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province of China and the PingLin tea area in Taiwan.
The tea has an exquisite woody and chocolatey flavour with subtle hints of floral and fruity notes. It has an intense aroma and costs around $6,500 per kg. The tea ages like fine wine and is fired once every two years to dry out moisture and improve its taste.
Gao Shan Tea, Taiwan
Also known as High Mountain tea, Gao Shan tea is grown at altitudes higher than 1,000 metres in the tea gardens of Taiwan. The high humidity, altitude, thin air and elaborate fermentation process yield these full-flavoured and high-fragrance teas that are sold at up to $250 per kg.
Tienchi Flower Tea, China
This prized tea is among the most expensive teas in the market. It is popular owing to its healing properties and distinct flavour profile. The tea is cultivated from Panax Notoginseng flowers that grow in the Yunnan Province of China, once in three years.
Tienchi flower tea has a sweet and minty flavour with a ginseng-like aroma after it’s brewed. Regular consumption of the tea is believed to help with insomnia, boost oxygen levels, fight inflammation and eliminate toxins from the body. It is priced at around $170 per kg.