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May 18, 2024

International tea day: Most expensive teas in the world

Schenelle Dsouza
Tea is one of those beverages that almost everyone enjoys. Its expansive variety is what makes it a popular pick, not just in the country, but globally as well. But did you know that the discovery of tea was a complete accident?
According to Chinese legends, Emperor Shennong was drinking a bowl of boiled water, when a few leaves from a nearby tree blew into his bowl. These changed both the colour and taste of the water, which the emperor surprisingly enjoyed. And so tea was discovered.
On this international tea day, here’s taking a look at some of the most expensive teas in the world.
Da-Hong Pao – USD 1.2 million per kg
Da-Hong Pao
Photo Courtesy: Amazon
Da-hong Pao tea is the most expensive tea solely because of its rarity. It comes from a rare mother tree in the Wuyi Mountains of the Fujian province of China. At the moment, only six such trees exist. And so the government of China declared it a national treasure. The name Da-Hong Pao translates to ‘Big Red Robe’ in English which dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The Chinese Emperor traded his robe for the tea, for his ailing mother who was said to be cured immediately after drinking the tea.
Panda Dung Tea – USD 70,000 per kg
Panda Dung Tea
Panda Dung Tea
While the name suggests panda faeces, Panda Dung Tea doesn’t actually use it in the tea, only as fertilizer for the tea plant. Grown in the Ya’an Mountains of Sichuan, China, the tea was first grown by An Yanshi, an entrepreneur and calligraphy teacher. According to Yanshi, the tea is filled with nutrients from bamboo. The pandas are fed bamboo from which they absorb only 30 per cent of the nutrients. The remaining 70 per cent remain in the droppings which are essential for the plants.
PG Tips Diamond Tea Bag  – USD 15,000 per tea bag
PG Tips Diamond Tea Bag
Photo Courtesy: PG Tips
PG Tips created this ultra-fancy teabag to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2005. Designed by popular English jeweller Boodles, the teabag features 280 diamonds per teabag. These include 100, 2.56-carat diamonds on the side of the teabag, another 100 on the inside, and 80 diamonds on the tea bag’s white gold string. The teabag was also created to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Pu’erh Tea – USD 10,000 per kg
Pu’erh Tea
Photo Courtesy: Ubuy
Using droppings to make beverages isn’t a new concept. Pu’erh Tea, however, uses insect droppings, a first for tea. Grown in the Yunnan province in Southwest China, the tea dates all the way back to the 18th century when it was gifted to the Chinese Emperor, Qianlong. Authentic Pu’erh tea comes only from Camellia sinensis var assamica. After cultivation, the leaves undergo a microbial fermentation process that helps build the flavour of the tea.
Yellow Gold Tea Buds – USD 7,800 per kg
Yellow Gold Tea Buds
Photo Courtesy: TWG
Often referred to as the tea of the Chinese emperors, Yellow Gold Tea is grown only once a year. The leaves of the tea are cut only with golden shears, and are then sprayed with 24-carat edible gold flakes, a tedious process which takes hours to complete. Owing to this golden character, the tea has a floral-metallic aftertaste. The tea, owned by TWG, is sold only in Singapore.
Vintage Narcissus – USD 6,500 per kg
Vintage Narcissus
Photo Courtesy: Pure Taiwan Tea
Narcissus is grown in the Wuyi Mountains and the PingLin tea area in Taiwan. A form of rare oolong tea, it gets its name from the Greek god with the same name. The tea is aged and fired once every two years, which helps to dry out moisture giving it a woody taste. The aroma of the tea, on the other hand is a sweet floral aroma, predominantly orchids, with a sweet, chocolatey flavour that closes in on rich woody notes.
Tieguanyin Tea – USD 3,000 per pound
Tieguanyin Tea
Photo Courtesy: Royal Tea Bay
An oolong tea that is a blend of black and green teas, Tieguanyian Tea gets its name from Guan Yin, a Buddhist deity also known as the iron goddess of mercy. The tea has a distinctive chestnut flavour which comes from fermentation. Harvested in the highest regions of the Fujian province, the leaves are sun-dried, roasted and flavoured giving it a very strong flavour profile wherein the same teat can be used up to seven times before it loses its flavour. The tea dates back to the 19th century when it was supposedly first produced.
Silver Tips Imperial Tea – USD 1,850 per kg
Silver Tips Imperial Tea
Photo Courtesy: Makaibari
India’s most expensive tea, Silver Tips comes from the Queen of Hills, Darjeeling. Grown in the Makaibari estate, the tea is harvested only on full moon nights, due to the belief that the planets’ straight alignment on full moon nights helps optimise the flavour making it the perfect time to harvest the leaves. Because of this, the tea can only be harvested three or four times each harvest season making it extremely rare. The resulting flavour is a sweet fruity taste similar to mango and frangipani.
Gyokuro – USD 650 per kg
Photo Courtesy: Tea Shop
Gyokuro is a special Japanese tea that is considered to be the best quality tea in all of Japan. First discovered by Kahei Yamamoto VI in 1835, the tea is grown in the Uji district of Japan. The tea plants are kept under straw mats for two weeks before harvesting. This increases the amino acid content, adding to the umami flavour of the tea.
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Schenelle Dsouza


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