We often hear about the price of tea in China, but it is referred to more as an idiom than that of the monetary coefficient. As an idiomatic expression, it usually means that an irrelevant or unrelated topic has been opened to a conversation. You might have heard of this phrase already, stirring your mind to the actual answer to that question. This is true, especially if you are fond of drinking Chinese tea.
The price of tea in China is dependent on a variety of factors. However, the standard range for a 500-gram tea is from CYN 70 ($10) to CYN 7059 ($1000). The most expensive teas in China can even reach up to $2.8 million!
Being ingrained in Chinese culture and history, it is not surprising how the price of tea in China has a wide range. Yet we have to consider that the cost would depend on a lot of variables. Below, we have listed below several of the things that are being considered to determine the pricing of Chinese tea.
The Type of Tea
A lot of tea varieties rose to prominence throughout China’s history. These tea varieties (although, they come from the Camellia sinensis tree) come in six basic categories. The difference falls in color, flavor, and processing, among others. Because of the difference in producing the tea, the price also varies. Here are the six types of Chinese tea.
Green tea is the oldest and probably the most popular type of tea. It is made from the shoots of the tea plant. The leaves are then processed by means of water moving, rolling, and drying. Since green tea is easy to make, it is one of the most affordable types of tea.
White tea refers to the unfermented and uncured green tea that has been dried quickly. Most of the white tea tends to be more expensive than green tea.
Yellow tea is made by allowing the damp tea leaves to naturally dry. It is a high-quality tea, most noted for its unique aroma and color. Because of its quality and type of market circulation, the price of yellow tea can be quite expensive.
Also known as blue tea, oolong tea is unfermented tea with distinctive characteristics. It boasts of a rich aroma and flavor. Because of this, oolong tea can be expensive, with a price of around $40 for a 500-gram pack.
Black tea is the second largest category of tea in China. It is made from the shoots of tea leaves that have been wilted, rolled, fermented, and then finally dried. Because it is a large category of tea, it is less expensive than that of oolong tea, with a standard 500-gram pack being $20 only.
The dark tea refers to a post-fermented tea that has undergone an actual fermentation process with the help of bacteria. Because of its intricate process, dark tea also tends to be the most expensive among them.
The Age of the Tea
The tea in China prices higher the more it ages. The longer it took for the tea to be processed, the more expensive it would be. Take for instance the dark tea. Since it is more difficult to make (and it takes a lot of time to age), it is more expensive than the green tea that is easy to process. These aged tea leaves require delicate handling and storing. This adds to their additional costs, making them more expensive.
Tea varieties such as that of the dark tea go through a long process, one of which includes fermentation. That is one of the reasons why they are more expensive.
The Quality of the Tea Leaves
Like any other product, it is worth noting that quality tea leaves also come with a price. You should further note that the quality of the leaves would be dependent on various factors such as environment, cultivars, cultural practices, and processing techniques.
In terms of cultivars, chemical components, fermentation ability, and processing techniques come into the picture. In terms of environment, climate and soil are major factors that affect tea quality. As per cultural practices, weeding, tillage, and irrigation come into the picture. The processing technique refers to the complicated operation that creates tea.
There are a lot of factors to consider in terms of quality, so tea leaves do not really come cheap. As a matter of fact, a 500-gram tea with an average quality can be bought for as low as $20.
The Quantity of the Tea Leaves
The quantity of tea also affects its valuation. Some types of tea leaves are usually sold in bulk all-year long. The tea leaves that come in larger quantities are usually cheaper. Tea leaves that are sold in smaller quantities, such as dark tea, are more expensive.
We also need to take a look at the supply and demand scheme of these tea leaves. Quantity may also refer to the supply of tea. If there is a high supply of these tea leaves but there is low demand, then the price tends to be quite low. However, if the tea leaves are low in supply but high demand, then expect the price to be very high.
How Organic the Tea is
Finally, you can consider the organic varieties of the tea leaves. If the tea leaves have undergone organic farming, you may expect that the tea is expensive. Organic tea is typically expensive in China than the non-organic types because they use controlled, natural farming methods. Moreover, they also utilize chemical-free processing and storage. This costs a ton more than non-organic techniques. Buying an organic Chinese tea fo average quality may cost you more than $50.
Drinking a good cup of tea is truly a marvel, as each sip revitalizes you. Hence, it is always great to have with you some tea leaves. Getting the right blend of Chinese tea is surely a good wat to kick things off, especially if you are on a budget. Don’t worry though, the price of tea in China will not be changing anytime soon. So you can head off and get the aroma and the flavors that you are looking for in a tea.