Why This Rare Chinese Tea Costs $10,000 Per Pot

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Tea enthusiasts with lots of money to spend may want to head to a town in southern China to find one of the most expensive tea varieties in the world.

More popular for its price than its taste, the extremely rare and original Da Hong Pao (Imperial Red Robe) tea costs about $10,000 per pot, or around $1,400 per gram, according to BBC Travel.

Found only in the Chinese town of Wuyishan, Da Hong Pao is the heavily oxidized, dark Oolong tea known for its sweet aroma and a smoky, mellow flavor that leaves an enduring aftertaste minutes after consumed.

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Due to its quality and price, low-income families are not able to drink the expensive tea in China. Even to those who can afford it, the special tea is usually reserved for honored guests.

Relatively cheaper alternatives, priced around $100 per kilogram, are also available in Wuyishan. These varieties come from genetically identical plants grown out of cuttings from the original trees which produce similar yet varying grades of tea.

The quality of the Da Hong Pao tea is graded by its range of tastes and is influenced by the processing used, soil differences, and garden location.

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The expensive variety comes from the group of ancient and almost extinct wild “mother trees” from steep Tianxin Rock in the Wuyi Mountains in Jiulongke. The very last of these rare tea leaves were harvested in 2005 from the trees, which will never yield again.

The price of the legendary tea, which dates as far back as the early 18th century (Dao Guang Era), will only get higher as merchants and tea collectors have hoarded the remaining antique tea leaves.

The original Da Hong Pao is so expensive because there are hardly any of the original tea trees left,” tea master Xiangning Wu explained to BBC Travel. “And antique versions are very valuable, almost priceless.”

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