spinn said

Tea and price points--curious


I am someone who likes tea a lot and I am expanding my knowledge. I’m curious how price of tea is determined. I understand that some teas have an incredible degree of mark-up simply because it is considered the “finest” quality…but how do you tell if what you’re buying is really worth the price tag?

There is a dajeerling first flush from the Rungmook Estate for 37.50 euro pro 100 grams (that’s a lot of money).

Does it have to do with the province it comes from and the fact that it is first flush? This is only an example. There are plenty of other teas from other retailers that cost even more.

This is the link: https://www.teegschwendner.de/tee-shop/darjeeling-himalayan-treat

PS— yes it is in German sorry… but here is an expensive American example: https://www.arborteas.com/organic-hawaii-premium-green-tea.html (in this example the price point is more obvious since it is from the US and is pan fired)

Sorry if this is a dumb question but I want to know more about grading quality and prices

9 Replies
Leafhopper said

Tea is like any other product in that a whole host of factors determine the price, including the country of origin, reputation and rarity of the tea, location of the vendor, and yes, tea quality.

US$43 is on the higher end of the spectrum for 100 g of Darjeeling, especially from a less well-known estate. For comparison purposes, Arya Diamond, a 2018 first flush Darjeeling that should be near the top of the market, is $30 for 50 g.
Mid-range Darjeelings from good estates, however, can go for much less ($20 for 100 g of Giddapahar First Flush and $13 for 100 g of Gopaldhara Wonder First Flush from Vahdam). I haven’t tried any of these teas, so can’t vouch for the quality, but I’ve ordered from Vahdam before and my experience was good.

As to whether a tea is worth the price, it depends on whether you trust the vendor and want to pay for top quality. When I started getting into tea, I paid a fair amount of money for teas I later discovered weren’t that good. As with anything else, the more research you do on a vendor, the better. Good vendors won’t necessarily have the cheapest teas, but the quality of their offerings should reflect what they’re charging and their prices should be competitive. Also, if you’re trying a tea type for the first time, you don’t need to start with the ultra-premium stuff; just buy a small sample from a reputable company to see if you enjoy it.

Sorry for the long post, and I hope it helps.

spinn said

No, it’s okay. I think it’s really interesting. Why does the estate matter in reality? I don’t get why that would matter other than heritage or reputation on quality.

and I found one even more expensive. 85 euro for 150 grams! https://www.teegschwendner.de/tee-shop/japan-sencha-asanoka

“In the Miyazaki Prefecture of the volcanic island of Kyûshû, the Morimoto family places an enchanting Sencha from the leaf variety "Asanoka""

Arby said

The estate matters because you know what you are getting (roughly, it will vary between years). Once you have tasted a certain estate’s tea, you can count on similar characteristics in crops from future years. If you like a fruity Darjeeling from an estate, next year’s crop is going to vary in the amount of fruitiness but will be more consistent (subject to available rain/sunlight and the amount of fertilizer used) than the tea grown on another property (with different soil, varietals, plant ages, and drainage). Some people like the reliability of buying the tea from the same place to get more tea of known taste.

Think of it like how you probably have a favourite apple. Those apples are grown on multiple farms but are all the same cloned cutting. Apples grown from seed or any other clonal variety will taste different. When you go to the store, you probably want to buy an apple type you know tastes good instead of taking your chances with some random apple.

Sometimes crop size also plays a role; estates all vary in size and so a smaller estate with a good reputation can often get away with higher prices simply because the quantity of tea available is smaller (making it more exclusive).

Teasenz said

One factor that makes tea unique is the soil condition. You take tea seeds from one place and grow it somewhere else, and you’ll get teas that taste very differently.

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Arby said

Unless you heard a specific recommendation for a certain estate, I’d stick to mid-tier darjeeling teas in the $10-20 / 100g range. Higher prices are sometimes not reflective of the quality of the tea. If you aren’t an expert, I wouldn’t bother with the most expensive teas when the moderately priced teas can be more palatable and sometimes tastier than expensive ones. Some companies offer smaller samples or sample packs for you to try a bunch of teas before buying any larger bags – I recommend starting with samplers. I prefer the variation even now that I’m more familiar with straight teas.

Teasenz said

Completely agree. Also, you won’t be able to appreciate the expensive grades in the beginning. They tend to be regarded as lighter in flavor as they consist of Younger buds.

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Leafhopper said

I agree, 100 g is a lot of tea. I also tend to gravitate toward mid-tier Darjeelings as I usually can’t tell the difference between them and the higher-end productions. (But then, I’m a philistine who prefers second flush Darjeelings to first flushes.)

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I would suggest using that sum of money and ordering smaller batches from a small company such as
https://what-cha.com or http://www.capitaltea.com
whose owners are both accessible and knowledgable and will give you one to one service as you get to know your tea tastes. Both of these companies offer a variety of darjeelings from various estates, so you will be able to order a variety of small pouches to sample and understand your likes and dislikes a bit better.

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