Why is Da Hong Pao So Expensive: The Most Expensive Tea?
Da Hong Pao is a kind of oolong tea from the Wuyishan (or ‘Wuyi Mountain’) tea region in Fujian China. Due to the unique soil and natural conditions, all teas from the area have a mineral like flavour, which is why they’re also known as Wuyi Rock teas (or ‘yancha’).
More and more cultivars are developed for processing different rock teas including Shuixian, or Rougui and Huangjingui. However, Da Hong Pao remains the most popular among them.
Why is da hong pao so expensive?
The most expensive Da Hong Pao costs more than gold when compared in terms of weight. They’re grown inside the protected nature reserve and come in very low supply. There’s a few reasons why supply is limited:
- The natural reserve is small in size
- To preserve the eco-system, not all the land inside the reserve can be tea plants. In fact, notably several waterfalls inside the reserve are drying up due to over cultivation of tea. So the local officials tightly controls tea growing.
- The tea bushes are only picked once per year for the best quality.
There are many rich Chinese tea lovers waiting in line to get their hands on them, so the price can sky-rocket to unimaginable heights, given low supply.
The most expensive Da Hong Pao’s auctioned in the past where made from leaves of the ‘mother trees’ in the natural reserve. You can see them in the image above, which we took during our Wuyishan trip in 2015.
For example in 1998 during the Wuyishan Tea Culture Festival, 20 grams (0.7 oz) of tea was auctioned for about 22.000 USD.
In 2005, during the Shanghai International Tea Festival, the same amount was auctioned for about 28.000 USD. At last, in the same year during the Wuyishan Da Hong Pao Festival, the tea was auctioned for a record breaking 30.200 USD. That’s equal to about 1500 USD per gram (0.035 oz)! This was also the last time, as in 2006 the locals forbid harvesting the rare mother trees.
So back to our original question: is Da Hong Pao the most expensive tea? The fact is, we can’t really say, because there’s no price tag available anymore on the leaves of the mother trees. Moreover, aged pu erh teas, especially from ancient trees in famous mountains can also be astronomically high. Read more here: pu erh tea prices explained
Note: The above figures are based on an exchange rate of 6.87 RMB per USD.
The price of other original trees
Even for the other original trees in the nature reserve, the prices can be very high. However, since the crackdown on corruption by the Chinese government, the prices have come down a lot. Today, one kilogram of original nature reserve Da Hong Pao can cost between 1000 to 5000 USD. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate a lot year by year based on how successful the harvest is.
Nevertheless, as a tea lover you shouldn’t be too worried if you can’t afford these figures. Not many can. Luckily the area outside the nature reserve have very similar soil and natural conditions, producing excellent tea. Our Teasenz Da Hong Pao, comes from a tea garden in Wuyishan right next to the scenic area and we believe it’s a truly amazing tea with the distinctive mineral character.
If you’re interested in this tea, also read about the Legend of Dahongpao.