Price vs quality
In pricey, high end tea, where does price and quality intersect for real value for you?
The best Da Hong Pao can sell for hundreds of dollars per gram. I can’t even imagine any tea being literally thousands of times better or more unique than some of the excellent teas in my cupboard, and I’m not one who is inclined to pay for prestige.
The most expensive teas I’ve bought have been small samples of teas that go for $50-65 per 100g. I’m not always convinced that the quality is proportional to the price when compared to other excellent teas with a lower price point.
I just received a sample of a tea that goes for $140/100g. I haven’t tried it yet, and I’m feeling skeptical that it’s going to be five to ten times better than other teas in that category. (I’m also a little afraid I’m going to love it.)
Do you buy really expensive teas? Have you tried many? Do you feel like they are worth the price point?
I will usually try a “sample” size before I commit to a full portion. If it is an outstanding one I have no problem paying the price if i rally like it.
Sampling is the key to this in my opinion.
Completely agree with mr mo. I sample a LOT and I share samples with friends who sample a LOT. If we find something we like and it seems worth it, we buy it. Little Yellow Mark from White2? Worth it. There are others that I might be embarrassed I spent what I spent on them – but they are worth it to me. It will be different for everyone.
This. I am willing to pay for excellent tea, but I like to sample first. That said, a tea would have to be beyond excellent for me to send $140/100g.
Also agreeing with MrMopar (and that’s why I love samples, and happily pay for tea samples). If a tea is really marvellous and I just love it, of course I will be willing to pay for it…but even then, there’s a per-ounce threshold at which I’ll balk and will likely decide it is not really worth it unless the tea allows me to hear choirs of angels or something equally spectacular. TBH, I cannot imagine spending $140/100g of tea…and certainly can’t imagine telling my husband or, really, anyone else about it! But I’m also a cheapskate. If someone else wants to throw down that much, go for it!
Because I don’t currently drink darjeelings or pu-ehrs, my threshold is actually quite low, unless it’s a sample size. I cringe at what Whispering Pines gets for their tea… but I reckon it ‘s like wine ~ if you like it and have the money, life is short and why not? :) I just went to Napa and did some tastings of wines that were $300/bottle….some were less to my liking than their cheaper offerings, so price didn’t seem to correlate with taste for me. It seemed to correlate with trend and/or supply/demand and trendiness. Interesting topic that I shall continue to ponder!
ps. How did you do with that sample, Analina? What was it of?
Its a sample of this Darjeeling white: http://www.teabox.com/margarets-hope-clonal-flowery-spring-darjeeling-white-tea
I ordered their Sample of All Teas box on Black Friday, so with the refer a friend bonus and the 65% off, I got 135 10g samples for about $1 each, including shipping.
Not all Whispering Pines teas are really expensive and the ones that are? Totally and COMPLETELY worth it in my opinion. There is nothing like Golden Orchid or Cocoa Amore anywhere else and those amazing vanilla beans he uses are expensive and a significant amount of hand chopping, etc goes into them. I don’t drink artificially flavored tea because to me – they pretty much suck – they taste chemical and unreal. I’m not a huge fan of the Port – but Golden Orchid? Nectar of the Gods and worth it.
…oh, MzPriss, I didn’t say I hadn’t purchased cocoa amore and el dorado chai on cyber monday! :) I most certainly did! But I had to think about before I did it….and I know I’ll be glad I spoiled myself.
LOL! You will be totally glad you spoiled yourself – especially at 20% off! Those two are so good. I may need to make a cup of the Eldo right now.
Whispering Pines is one of the companies that showed me how far a quality tea can go. While the teas might be more expensive most can also be resteeped multiple times and still produce a high quality tea with each steep. Totally worth the price.
I love Golden Orchid and I think the price is reasonable for what it is. Definitely not as pricey as Cocoa Amore!
The number of truly enjoyable resteeps is a definite consideration in the cost/benefit evaluation of a tea purchase.
See, while i see the value of resteeps – i’m on the side of the fence where they don’t factor as much because its rare unless i’m drinking puerh, that i really want to drink 2+ cups of the same tea..and my other half prefers it when i don’t leave leaves sitting around all the time for when i want those other cups lol
I like the option of having multiple steeps, but I’m the same way – I rarely want two cups in a row of the same tea if I’m doing Western brews, which I most often do.
Agreed, for resteeps to add to the value of a tea, it must be a favorite tea so the resteeps aren’t wasted.
“The number of truly enjoyable resteeps is a definite consideration in the cost/benefit evaluation of a tea purchase.”
I’d have to say that the most expensive teas are generally not worth the price… for most people. Like anything, cars, jewelry, clothes, there are always super expensive options that don’t give you bang for the buck but are attractive for the rich or the connoisseur. Is a 200K sports car going to get you to work any better than a used Honda? No, probably not but if you have disposable income or are really really into cars you might want one. Same with tea. Most high end teas often aren’t that much better as far as taste to price ratio, but someone is buying them. Mostly those who are really into tea and can afford it. It’s fun to sample these teas but I often find myself saying, that was pretty good but not worth the price. That’s my thoughts anyway.
Hmm… I have to say, it doesn’t have to be a matter of whether you’re really into it or not. It could be the trade off of quality of experience and if you have enough collateral to put down. Or if you’re willing to put down that collateral.
Like going to the mall often and putting down $x to get a bunch of cheap fast fashion clothing, or putting down the same amount towards a really nice piece that you’ll wear again and again for years- and be able to continue enjoying that piece because the quality is better and so it doesn’t wear and tear as quickly.
I find tea is like that, some teas on the inexpensive side are nice for one, maybe two steepings max. Other teas I can keep steeping for a crazy amount of steepings, and so if I count that out into the pricing ratio, the price doesn’t seem so crazy. I don’t even mean steeping gongfu style- steeping western style. It’s just if I can afford that tea at it’s selling point or not. Despite that, currently my price tolerance for tea is still pretty low, I don’t have any of the super expensive stuff, even the moderately expensive stuff.
That being said though, I got a nice old ‘luxury car’ 10 yrs used 5 yrs ago, which cost me more than buying a new car from the mid-tiers of the standard equivalent brand. But the nothing in the car has ever given me any trouble, the engine purrs, and it looks better quality on the inside and outside than my sister’s sports car from the standard brand which is only 2yrs old – and this is only because it’s built to the luxury standard. The only thing wrong with it is that the inbuilt GPS is 14 yrs out of date. And does it get me to work better? I would say yes- the acceleration is better, and the gas mileage isn’t that bad. And in the event that an accident does happen, the body is much more solidly built and I trust my car to take care of me.
Mmm I know what you mean. There’s a certain threshold where quality is worth paying extra for.
For me, comparing tea to expensive restaurants is probably the best comparison (since multiple steeps isn’t a huge factor for me). I have a lot of places I love to eat at that cost $10 for a meal. One of my favourite restaurants is probably in the neighbourhood of $75-100 per person. I’m not sure that it’s 10x “better” than those other restaurants, but it’s worth it as a special treat, and I really savour the experience.
I’ve been treated to a $400 meal once, and while I could never see myself dropping that kind of money on a meal, it was an experience that I’m really glad I had, and I can understand the value of it that gets people coming back, even if that value is way outside my reality.
I have a simple rule for high-price tea: I take the buy into consideration only if I can taste blind the difference with a lower price one, of the same kind.
Anyway, I never buy before try.
Is high price always worthy? Definitely not. The price of famous teas is driven by market dynamics and trend.
The story with pu’er is famous. Top quality are extremely rare and very expensive. The problem is, also poor-quality pu’er are often sold at high price. Hard to judge, if you, as the most of us, never had really high quality pu’er.
Da Hong Pao & Co: In the last days I have been drinking a different Rock tea a day to get ready for next weekend tasting:
A Niulangken Rougui that was sold (by the producer!) at 1500 USD for 500g. I got a 10g sample to try and will write here how it tastes compare to the other Rock tea I had.
By the way, sometimes an expensive tea is not extremely tasty, it is simply extremely rare. If a small yield lead to a unique taste, it will cost a lot; independently if you like it or not. It is simply a unique, rare taste. The same reason way 1kg of saffron is so expensive.
An advice: white tea are getting very popular in China. Buy now from previous years’ stocks before prices rise.
i will (and do) invest in high-price teas. (that being only 2 though, namely matcha and gyokuru. It’s the one treat for myself I indulge in now and then.
Tea is pretty darn cheap, even the $1,4/gram tea you mentioned doesn’t sound too bad when I compare it to the cost of a lot of other things in life.