The first pickings of the tea season are generally considered the highest quality and, as such, can fetch much higher prices than those picked later in the year. April usually marks the start of the season in many tea-growing countries and Korea is no different in that respect. Our 1st grade tea is picked from only the topmost, most tender buds during the first harvest in April to give an exceptional light and sweet taste. This tea, like all Korean tea, given their small production (only 0.1% of the world’s tea is Korean) and limited exportation, is remarkably rare and priced accordingly, but is a bargain compared to some of the world’s most expensive picks!
Yellow Gold Tea is a Chinese tea sold exclusively in Singapore by a luxury tea firm. Its first-picked leaves, harvested only one day a year, are coated in 24-karat gold for a ‘delicately metallic and floral aftertaste’ and retail at over $10,000NZD a kilo.
Big Island Tea is a fairly new name in the market, having only been grown since 2002 on a Hawaiian island. Its entire initial crop was bought in 2011 by Harrods in the UK, who paid upwards of $13,000NZD for the privilege of being its sole stockist. The perceived quality comes from the organic, sustainable farming methods and, just like all our teas, it is harvested and processed by hand.
Topping them all, Chinese tea Da Hong Pao is famously expensive. Even normal crops retail for prices above $100 a kilo but first pickings, particularly older, aged ones, can reach astronomical prices of over $1m per kilo! The reason for this? All Da Hong Pao tea originates from four bushes in one town – Wuyishan – in the province of Fujian. It has legendary medicinal properties after the bushes were clothed in great red robes by a Ming dynasty emperor whose mother the leaves had healed, and its floral aftertaste lingers for several minutes. The original bushes are so fragile that they have not been harvested since 2005, so expect Da Hong Pao’s prices to stay high!
If you would like to try a great first picking but don’t have thousands to shell out for a few grams of the above, our Korean 1st grade tea, hand-picked at the start of the season, is available in 10g batches for $23.