Renowned as the most popular beverage in the world, tea is consumed as part of lifestyles around the world. Served either hot or cold, the consumption of tea has seen a steady increase over the last few years. It’s interesting to know that tea outnumbers the consumption of coffee by an approximate ratio of 1:3. In fact, tea is the only beverage that probably touches the hearts and minds of people from lowest income strata of the society to the absolute elites.

Looking at consumption of tea back in the ’50s, we see that it was consumed by only rich people. Back then, the beverage symbolised superiority and an elite passion of the then religious leaders and aristocrats. Hosting high tea parties was a lifestyle statement that characterised the rich and famous. The aura, sentiment, passion and imagery around tea is very rich and powerful. Some of the most expensive crockeries that one can see from ancient times is from royal high-tea gatherings.

Today, we get to see some elements of that era being reignited at high-profile exclusive parties and corporate gatherings. The central theme for such gatherings revolve around experiencing different types of teas. With time, tea and its characteristics are evolving in nature. This is due to the realisation of its health benefits and eclectic essence. This has led to the emergence of tea rooms and tea houses in India that cater an expansive range of teas.

Very few countries in the world cultivate quality tea. China, India and Japan account for most of it. For all the tea lovers, visiting Wuyishan in China can be an experience of a lifetime, as the region grows some of the best and most expensive teas in the world. Let’s look at some of the most exotic and expensive teas that is more than the daily brew, and is backed by a strong historical value across generations.

Da Hong Pao Tea

Literally translated to “big red robe tea”, Da Hong Pao tea has its origin in Fujian Province, China and comes with a history of 350 years. The sweetly scented, smoky and mellow flavour is quite hard to find. The original Da Hong Pao is extremely rare and is derived from the six mother trees found on the Jiu Long Ke cliff of Wuyi Mountain.

Less than a kilogram of this super rare tea is harvested from these six plants in one year. Out of which, a portion is retained by the Chinese government and the rest is auctioned, often reaching millions of dollars per kg. As per records, this variant rules the club of exotic and expensive teas with a selling price as high as $1,400 per gram and $10,000 per pot, almost 30 times the price of gold. It is hardly up for sale and is a famous collectible amongst the elite band of tea connoisseurs and the private collection of modern-day royals.

Panda Dung Tea

Cultivated in the mountains of Ya’an, Sichuan, this exotic tea variant is fertilised using the dung of pandas. The thought behind this is the large consumption of bamboos by the animal species. They consume a fraction of nutrients from bamboos and excrete the rest. This, in turn, churns out as a great fertiliser. Bamboo contains elements that can prevent cancer and help obese people. One of the highest-selling brews, a pound of Panda’s Dung Tea can cost anywhere up to $35,000.

Vintage Narcissus Wuyi Oolong Tea

One of the rarest variants grown exclusively in the highest altitudes of the Wuyi Mountain, China, the leaves of this tea plant are oxidised to around 60%. This process gives them the exotic flavour that is a blend of chocolaty, floral and wooden. Named after a Greek mythological figure, Narcissus, a kilogram of this variant ranges anywhere from $6,500 to $45,000.

Yellow Gold Tea Buds

An extremely rare variant, the leaves of this tea plant are sprayed with a shade of edible 24 carat gold. What makes it even rarer is that this tea is harvested only on one day in a year by the hands of skilled workers using gold shears for snipping. This tea costs around $3,000 for a kilogram.

It should be noted that quality, expensive tea brewed at 100 degrees water temperature will completely destroy its flavour and aroma…ultimately the entire pleasure of consuming it can be lost in no time. So, from the water temperature to how it is brewed to the way it is sipped and savoured determines the perfect brew.


Author is CEO and MD of Elior India