Imperial Infusion: the world's most valuable tea is a state-guarded commodity
The most expensive tea in the world is Da Hong Pao, or big red robe, which is plucked from 350-year-old trees in China’s Wuyi Mountains. In 2004, a measure of 20 grams (about two thirds of an ounce) sold for around $21,000. Previously reserved for emperors and honoured state guests, the tea and has only been made available for by public auction three times (in 1998, 2002 and 2004). In 1972, Chinese premier Mao Zedong gave 50 grams of the tea to President Richard Nixon, who was apparently insulted by the small quantity until an aide pointed out that 50 grams represented 50% of all the Da Hong Pao harvested that year.
Tea Tally: How much tea is really grown and produced in the world?
Tea is one of the most popular and lowest cost beverages in the world and is consumed by a huge number of people. Since the advent of 21st century the tea industry has seen a steady increase in the overall area under tea, growing at an average growth rate of 3.42% a year, Today the bush is cultivated across 3.7 million hectares of land globally, and produces an annual crop of 4,100 tonnes. Amongst tea producing countries, China, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Indonesia account for 77% of the world’s production and 80% global exports.
Vital Volumes: How tea presents a shifting yield from field to flavour
Half a kilo of loose tea can make about 200 cups of tea. In only one day, an experienced tea picker can collect over 30kg of tea, which thoroughly oxidised to produce black tea would produce around 12,000 cups of tea. However, green teas or otherwise less oxidised teas can often be infused several times to produce different layers of flavour base on the different chemical compounds that are released from the leaves. Tannins typically release from the leaves first and contribute to the overly bitter taste of tea that has been brewed for too long, but secondary or tertiary infusions release greater proportions of chemicals that have lighter flavours and notes. In reality, each kilogram of high-grade green tea can infuse over 1,000 cups.