The World’s Most Expensive Tea Costs Over $2,000 Per Cup

Written by Erica Scassellati
Published: February 24, 2024
Share on:

Advertisement


Tea enthusiasts would travel far and wide to find the finest brew, but would they spend thousands of dollars on the perfect cup? The world’s most expensive tea grows high in the Wuyi Mountains of China. It has a fascinating history and celebrated taste.

Da Hong Pao is the World’s Most Expensive Tea

Horizontal image of the Wuyishan Yufu Peak, Fujian, China behind the rock

The most expensive tea in the world grows in the Wuyi Mountains of China.

©Tatiana Kashko/iStock via Getty Images

Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) is the most expensive tea in the entire world. This tea fetches a price of $1.2 million per kilogram or $2,400 per cup. This heavily oxidized rock tea grows in the Wuyi Mountains of China, according to Sencha Tea Bar.

While Da Hong Pao is the most expensive tea in the world, there are also lower quality, more affordable varieties.

Mother Tree Da Hong Pao

First, the most expensive type of Da Hong Pao is pretty much impossible to drink. This tea was originally hand-crafted by tea masters using the six mother Da Hong Pao trees.

However, the Chinese government banned the use of mother trees in 2007. The few remaining batches of tea made from this plant are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Purebred Da Hong Pao

Purebred Da Hong Pao is the second most expensive variety. Scientists at a university in the Fujian Province cultivated this tea from small fragments from the original Da Hong Pao tea bushes. 

Da Hong Pao Blend

Finally, the most affordable Da Hong Pao typically involves blending a mixture of some purebred Da Hong Pao leaves with other Wuyi oolong teas. Some options include Shui Xian, Rou Gui, and Tie Guan Yin.

History

Chinese tea ceremony.

A traditional way of brewing Da Hong Pao involves using a purple clay teapot.

©MilenaKatzer/iStock via Getty Images

Records of the existence of the Da Hong Pao tree and its legendary tea date as far back as the early 18th century. Local Chinese legend states that an emperor’s mother was cured of a mysterious illness by drinking tea made from four special bushes in the Wuyi Mountains. In return, the emperor offered red robes to protect the plants.

Taste

Considering its high price point, it should come as no surprise that Da Hong Pao has an incredible flavor. This tea boasts a unique orchid fragrance and a long-lasting sweet finish. It is earthy with notes of stone fruit, brown sugar, and molasses.

How to Brew

Dry Da Hong Pao is green and brown. The tea becomes a bright, clear orange-yellow color after brewing. For best results, Sencha Tea Bar recommends brewing Da Hong Pao using a tea strainer and water heated to between 95 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, steep for one minute before enjoying.

Why Is Da Hong Pao So Expensive?

Da Hong Pao’s incredible taste is one of the reasons for its high price points. However, the real reason this tea is so expensive is that it is harvested from plants that have been growing in the Wuyi Mountains for hundreds of years. Very few of these mother plants remain.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Zadorozhnyi Viktor/Shutterstock.com


Share on:
About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.