Why Expensive Teas are Expensive (And Cheap Teas are Cheap)

Does more expensive teas generally taste better? What are the factors behind the pricing of tea? With so many different teas available, and a wide range of prices, it’s worth to understand the pricing rationale, so that you can make a more informed buying decision.

1. Supply versus Demand
The most basic reason for prices to differ is how much demand there’s for a type of tea relative to how much supply available. Imagine there are two equally good teas, but one has only an annual supply of 100 KG while the other has a much larger annual production of 10.000 KG.

The farmer of the 100 KG tea will tend to keep the price high, to maximise it’s sales. The other farmer faces risks of not being able to sell out his stock, and will keep lowering the price to increase the sales.

This at the same time proofs more expensive teas aren’t necessarily better. Supply and demand dynamics are very obvious in reality, with seasonal weather being on of the most important factors affecting supply. Too many consecutive days of rain or drought can ruin a harvest.

This is also a reason why agricultural insurance is on the rise in China.

Trends also affect the demand of a specific product at a specific point in time. In 2015, there’s was a new research publication backing the health benefits of Honeysuckle tea. At that time, the demand suddenly surged drastically. Because the producers were short of stock, they increased their prices.

2. Brand
Now imagine that there are two equally good teas with equal supply conditions.​ However, now one is offered by a company with a strong brand, while the other doesn’t come with any brand at all. The first will come with a higher price, because the customer sees value in the brand. It could be that the brand offers stable quality and thus piece of mind. Others offer a complete experience, such as an environment that allows them to enjoy consuming the product. Starbucks is a very good example from the coffee industry.

In addition, companies invest in their brand by incurring for example overhead and marketing costs. These costs needs to be recovered, resulting in markups on the retail price.

3. Packaging
Related to the brand is packaging. Packaging add value in several ways. A tea bag can be considered convenient packaging, as it makes the preparation of tea easier compared to loose leaf tea. Packaging can also keep teas fresh. Take for example, pouches with zip closure that can help to keep your tea fresh. Or tea in tins, that are more suitable as a gift.

4. Age
For some teas, especially pu erh, the age also affects the price. For those teas, the ripening process result in a better flavour and aroma.

Assume there are 2 tea cakes made from the same quality of raw material and from the same origin. However, one cake is 10 years old while the other is just 1 year old. The older cake will be much more expensive. A pu erh tea lover will be willing to spend more money on the 10 year cake, simply because when buys the 1 year cake, he’ll have to wait another 9 years before he can enjoy the same taste. Thus, saving time can be seen as valuable.

5. Storage Conditions
When tea is harvested, it might not be all sold directly. When tea is stored properly, the quality can be kept fresh, and thus sold for a better price in the future. Coming back to the pu erh cakes, this becomes even more important. Cakes that are preserved in the right conditions, ripen and develop a better flavour, making them more valuable.

Do you know any more factors? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section below!

Tea Recipe: Jasmine Tea Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is boring, but not when you give it a twist with Jasmine tea. Here’s what’s required:

  • 2 red onions
  • 3 medium carrots ( sliced into 1 cm pieces )
  • 50g fresh ginger
  • 1 fennel bulb ( finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 tbsp jasmine tea
  • coriander seeds
  • spaghetti or noodles
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh chives
  • 2 chicken breasts ( with bone )

Jasmine tea recipe preparation

Preheat oven to 190 ° C. Use a large heatproof frying pan or wok and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the pan and add onions, carrots, ginger and fennel. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Keep stirring in the pan until the vegetables are slightly softened, this is after about 6-8 minutes.

Afterwards, you scoop out the vegetables in a separate bowl. Pour water into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Turn the stove off when the water boils, add the jasmine tea leaves. Put the lid on the pan and let the tea infuse for 5 minutes.

Make chicken stock in a pan and put it on low heat. After 5 minutes, add the tea to the chicken stock. Dry the chicken breasts with kitchen paper and coat the chicken breasts then with half a tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer the chicken to taste by adding salt, pepper and coriander. Heat the pan that was used for the vegetables again and add the remaining olive oil. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and fry it at high temperature. Then place the pan in the preheated oven and bake the chicken breasts for 15 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti or noodles, and then let it drain well. Cut all the meat of the chicken breasts once it’s done. Put the spaghetti or noodles in a bowl and add the chicken and vegetables as well. Then pour the delicious tea broth over and garnish with coriander and chives. There you go!

Enjoy and make sure you leave a comment if you have tried this recipe at home 😉

Smoked Chicken Salad with Black Tea Dressing Recipe

Black tea is not only a popular beverage, but it can at the same time be used to make excellent salad dressings! For this smoked chicken salad you need the following ingredients:

  • 225 gram smoked chicken
  • 115 grams of raisins
  • 2 small pears
  • 100 gram of chestnuts
  • 1 crop of lettuce

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1 or 2 tablespoon of loose black Chinese tea leaves
  • 80 ml yoghurt
  • 60 ml of apple juice
  • 1/4 tablespoon of black pepper (buy fresh and grind yourself)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preparation Chicken salad with tea dressing

For the dressing, bring the apple juice to boil in a pan. Turn of the heat and sprinkle the tea leaves in the pan and let it steep for 5 minutes. Afterwards, separate the leaves from the steeped apple juice tea and let it cool down.

Separate the leaves from the steeped apple juice tea and let it cool down.

Once the tea has cooled, add mustard, yoghurt, pepper and salt. Then mix the ingredients well.

Soak the raisins in boiling water for at least 10 minutes . They must eventually be soft. Rinse them with water and let them drain.
Wash the lettuce and let it dry. Divide the salad among 4 plates dry.

Cut the smoked chicken into chunks or stripes. Peel the pears and remove the core. Cut the pears into thin slices. Peel the water chestnuts and cut them into slices as well.

Put the smoked chicken, grapes, pears and water chestnuts in a bowl. Pour about half the dressing with it. (There will be 1 tablespoon of dressing per person left). Mix everything well together.

Divide the chicken salad on 4 plates and pour another the remaining dressing over each plate. Serve and enjoy! Dare to try and share your thoughts 😉

Dragon Well Tea Legends Reveiled

Dragon Well tea is the most famous of Chinese green tea that is known for its wonderful taste and amazingly fine quality. It is also a tea with a long history with its production dating back 1,500 years ago. According Cha-Jing (the world’s first tea book written by Lu Yu), it was recorded as early as Song Dynasty. Two fascinating legends have been passed down through generations and they are definitely worth to read to make your experience of this drinking Dragon Well tea even better.

Legend of Dragon Well

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Long ago, a tea elf had 8 teacups and always used them to brew teas for his guests in fairyland. One day many gods came and visited his home, the elf was panicking and dropped one cup to the human world. The god Dongbing helped him to go to the human world and told him he had only one chance to get the cup back. The elf went down to the mountain in Shifeng (one of the Legendary Dragon Well Green Tea Villages). He believed his cup was there but he couldn’t find it. Searching for a whole day, he was tired and thirty. Fortunately, he found an old lady who was brewing teas and she was very nice to give him a cup of tea. Then he found the tea water tasted like his. Thus he asked the old lady where the water and the tea came from. She pointed to a well not far away and said the well appeared long ago after something dropped from the sky. The water was from the well and the teas were irrigated by the water. At that moment, the elf knew that his cup became this well long time ago since one day in the fairyland is equal to many years in the human world. To thank the old lady for treating him cordially, he decided to leave the cup there and turned back to fairyland. He told this story to some of his dragon friends and they sometimes visit the well and drink water from there. Then this well has become very important for the local green teas and therefore is named after the Well visited by Dragons

Legend of 18 tea trees beside the Dragon Well

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Then many years passed, the old lady’s house became a famous temple called “Hugong”. And 18 tea trees, irrigated by the water from Dragon Well, were planted outside of it. In Qing Dynasty, an emperor called Qianlong came to Hangzhou and visited Hugong temple. When he was picking teas from the tea trees outside the temple, he received a message that his mother was ill and wished his immediate return to Beijing. He shoved the leaves he had picked into his sleeve and immediately left for Beijing. Upon his return he immediately went to visit his mother. She noticed the smell of the leaves coming from his sleeves. Qianlong decided to immediately brew a cup of tea made from the Dragon Well tea leaves for her. The holy tea cured her disease. The Emperor was very grateful and gave the 18 tea trees  Imperial status. Since then, Dragon Well tea became the tribute tea to emperors.

Until today, the 18 tea trees remain at the Shifeng Mountain and attract thousands of tourists all over the world.

The History Of The Word ‘Tea’

The way we call tea in different regions of the world is influenced by the different pronunciations of the word ‘tea’ in Chinese as well as the power balance of different regions throughout history.

3 Ways Of Pronouncing Tea

China has many ethnic groups and thus they have their own pronunciations of the word tea.

  • North China: ‘Cha’
  • South China: ‘Tey’ or ‘Ti’
  • Southwest China: ‘La’

6th Century: The Beginning Of Tea Exchange

Starting from the 6th Century, China started exporting tea during the Sui Dynasty. The North was the most influential region with many export activities focused on shipping tea to Japan, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Portugal and other Arabic countries. Therefore, these countries way of pronouncing tea is very similar to ‘cha’. Try to translate the word tea from English to any language from the mentioned countries, and you will find that they use ‘cha’ or variations such as ‘chai’ or ‘char’. For example:

  • Russia: char
  • Japanese: cha
  • Turkish: çay

mapping the word tea

16th & 17th Century: Tea Export To Europe

During this period, economic activity shifted from the North to the Southern part of China where tea was at that time pronounced as ‘Tey’. Main export destinations in Europe with the most demand coming from Britain, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, and Spain. These countries therefore use pronunciations close to ‘tey’ or ‘ti’.

  • France: thé
  • Holland: thee
  • Germany: tee
  • Italy: tè
  • Spain: té
  • Britain: tea

tea word map

tea word 2

What’s particularly interesting is that even though Portugal and Spain are neighboring countries with a very closely related language, they pronounce tea differently (Portugal: chá, Spain:té). This proofs the importance of dominance of tea producing regions in China over different periods of time through history.

Exceptions

Some European countries such as Poland are an exception. In Polish the word for tea isn’t related to either of the pronunciations mentioned above, but comes from the word ‘herb’: herbata.

Export to Countries Neighboring China

At the same time the Dai, Miao, and Yi minorities Southwestern part of China also started exporting tea to neighboring countries, such as Laos, Burma, Cambodia. As these ethnic minorities pronounce tea as ‘la’ the importing countries are using the same term in their languages.

Tea for Bad Breath

Have you ever heard from your spouse that you’ve a bad breath? Or do you know someone that has this problem? It’s always gonna be hard for anyone to tell another that he/she has a bad breath.

The fact is, that bad breath can seriously affect the intimacy between couples, and telling someone can sometimes hurt their pride. The good news is that tea can help! So what’s the best tea against bad breath? Before we discuss this, you need to first understand the root cause of bad breath.

What Causes Bad Breath?

There are several reasons:

The first simple reason is that one doesn’t properly or frequently enough brush and/or floss their teeth. As a result food might stay in the mouth, rot, and allow bacteria to grow, causing bad breath. This however, can easily be solved. Simply properly brush and floss everyday, and bad breath should be gone in about 2 weeks. But…

..often, however, bad breath can have some other non-dental causes that results in a more chronic problem. In the field of homeopathy (or alternative medicine) we call this ‘heat’ or ‘inflammation’. This is often the result of overworking, stress or some other specific causes, that results in certain parts of the body to be irritated. And this often causes symptoms such as bad breath and acne. Read further to discover what teas can fight it.

Green Tea for Bad Breath

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Green tea is often cited as a cure against bad breath. This is partly true. One benefit of drinking green tea is that it’s anti-bacterial. Because of this, it can instantly improve your breath after drinking.

Besides that, it can to some extend calm the body and reduce inflammation, though the effect is not very strong. Some herbal teas are known to be more effective against chronic bad breath issues, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Herbal Tea for Bad Breath

Chrysanthemum teas

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Among all the herbal teas, Chrysanthemum teas are the lightest beverage against inflammation with a similar intensity as green tea. The benefit however is that you can also drink it at night, as it’s caffeine free.

Honeysuckle tea

Another type of flower tea that has proven to be effective is honeysuckle tea. This flower tea is very effective against inflammation. But because of that one should be careful with consuming this in high amount. Start with a cup per day. It’s a known fact however that one should avoid honeysuckle when you’re pregnant, breast-feeding as well as before and after surgery.

Kuding tea

kuding tea needle tea

At last, there’s Kuding tea. Perhaps the strongest in fighting bad breath, but the downside is that it’s very bitter. Probably more bitter than anything you’ve tried before. Kuding leaves are often rolled and processed into needle shapes. Make sure to get the greener ones, as they tend to have a more pleasant and refreshing after taste.

As with Honeysuckle, Kuding should also be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding moms, and also before and after surgery.

8 Inspiring Ideas for Your Tea Business or Startup

Starting any business is hard, and you can’t get away from this challenging even if you’re in the booming tea business. Are you in the process of starting your own tea business now, or are you facing difficulties with your current business? Don’t give up yet. Read these inspirational quotes, even if you’ve failed many times, you’ll have the motivation to bounce right back:

  1. Start with a good product. It really doesn’t matter how good your marketing is, if you’re not offering unique teas and teaware that people will love, it’s not gonna work out in the long term.
  2. Think user experience. Is your online tea store easy to use? Do your customers know how to steep your tea, and do you offer the right teaware for that? How do customers experience your service and the interior design of your shop or tea room? Most expert believe that startups don’t invest enough in user experience. Does this apply to you as well?
  3. The last 10%: You’re 90% ready, then don’t be lazy on the last 10%. In fact, the last 10% often takes 90% of your time. Is it worth it? Hell yeah, it’s crucial, it makes professional and sustainable tea business different from the rest.
  4. A great tea business evolves: Making mistakes sucks, but not evaluating your mistakes and using the feedback from your customer to improve your business is a crime. Great tea stores learn from mistakes, and evolve by improving their product assortment and services, so they can avoid such failures in the future. In fact, if you’re not failing, probably you’re playing safe and probably you’re not trying hard enough. That’s risky. Even if you don’t have the best idea to begin with, you can likely adapt if you try your best.
  5. Motivation: Bad shit is always coming, it’s just something that comes with starting a tea business. Don’t get demoralized by that.
  6. Make everyone feel respected: If you’re working with team mates, make them feel respected, empowered, and genuinely excited about your mission. You can make a product that people want, but it’s as important to build a tea business that people want to work for. Hiring is also important here. Hire those who’re committed to the world of tea.
  7. Customer focus: always try your best to learn what customers ‘really’ want. They might ask for a mediocre tea bag, tell them about some better stuff you have and convince them to try! Really finding out what the customer wants isn’t always the same as what they think they want, or what you think they want.
  8. Be hungry: if you’re currently running a successful tea business, then you might feel safe. This can be a big pitfall. You’ve to be hungry, because being hungry is just half the work of sustaining a tea business.

Tea & Arthritis

Arthritis is a common terms that describes joint pain. While it’s often understood as a disease it can be rather seen as a symptom resulting from different causes.

For some people, arthritis could be caused by inflammation. In such a case, tea can be a easy and effective natural remedy.

What is Inflammation?

When visiting the Wikipedia page you’ll read that inflammation is described as:

A part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators.

Scientific research on mice until now concludes with pretty strong evidence that feeding mice with polyphenol rich tea reduces inflammation and thus joint pain. Does this work on humans? Well let’s believe it for now, until more conclusive research follows.

Before we head on to what tea is the most suitable, let’s have a look at the definition of tea as well.

What is Tea?

When we talk about tea, we’re referring to leaf tea made from the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. Given this, herbal teas made from other plants, such as Rooibos, doesn’t fall in this category. They’re officially referred to as tisanes. This of course doesn’t mean they don’t help against inflammation. In fact, some tisanes are very effective!

What’s the Best Leaf Tea against Inflammation and Arthritis?

Now you understand that inflammation is a cause of arthritis, we can now discuss some teas that can be effective against that.

When it comes to leaf tea, there’s green, white, black, oolong, and pu erh tea. They’re all from the same tea plant as I said before. What makes them different is the processing method applied. White and green tea are the least processed of all, while oolong, black and pu erh are more processed teas.

Types & potential side effects

Generally research shows that white and green tea contain the most polyphenols, so it would make sense to suggest those teas to prevent arthritis. However, white and green teas can have their side effects, and some people are very sensitive to that. Because they’re less processed teas, they tend to be ‘raw’. And this rawness can sometimes hurt the stomach. When you suffer from Arthritis, go for a cup of white and green tea first, but check if your stomach can handle the regular consumption of 4-5 cups a day. The best is to drink it after meals and snacks when you’re stomach isn’t empty.

If you do suffer from side effects on the stomach, then switch to oolong, black or pu erh tea. For the latter, there are two types: Sheng (raw) and Shou (ripe) pu erh. We won’t go into the details of explaining the difference here, but go for ripe pu erh.

Some oolong teas can still be harsh on the stomach, such as a lightly oxidized Tie Guan Yin, while a darker Dahongpao oolong is fine. Black teas are usually ok as well, and with ripe pu erh it can hardly go wrong. Ripe pu erhs are post-fermented and actually very soft on the stomach. It even supports digestion.

At the end of the day, there’s not that much difference between the polyphenol levels among the types. Don’t worry to much about the type of tea that you should consume as long as it’s tasty, so you’ll be able to make it part of your daily diet.

Herbal Teas against inflammation

Besides leaf teas there are also great herbal teas against inflammation. You’ve to be careful with those as they can be very powerful. So try them in small amounts first. In China, Kuding tea and Honeysuckle tea are the most famous examples and often prescribed by Chinese Medicine doctors.

Read this article in which we’ve published a honeysuckle tea with rose buds recipe: https://helloteacup.com/2016/05/13/rose-tea-recipes/

Other Notes on Arthritis

  • Avoid drinking tea in the evening as it contains caffeine.
  • Try to listen to your body, tea often helps, but not for everyone. Consult a doctor when in doubt.
  • Try to adjust your tea choice across seasons. Often times, people tend to go for a more refreshing green tea during summers and a more soothing black tea during Winters. There’s nothing wrong with that intuition.
  • Don’t just drink tea for health, try to enjoy it. Isn’t that also a health benefit in itself?!