Rare Chinese cinnamon tea offered at over $184,000 per kilogram at Hong Kong restaurant

glassbelly
Image: Glassbelly Tea Lab
  • A rare variety of Rougui tea from Glassbelly Tea Lab in Hong Kong costs approximately $184,615 per kilogram (2.2 pounds).
  • Glassbelly specializes in expensive oolong rock teas extracted from China’s Wuyi Mountains, making them among the most expensive tea varieties in the world.
  • One brew of the Niu Lan Keng Rougui, a rare cinnamon variety of Rougui tea, can be bought at Glassbelly for approximately $3,577.
  • The teas’ expensive price tags stem from their complex processes and rare nature.

A fine dining restaurant in Hong Kong is selling a rare variety of Chinese cinnamon tea for approximately $184,615 per kilogram (35.2 ounces).

Glassbelly Tea Lab, an upscale tea pairing restaurant located in Hong Kong, specializes in oolong rock teas, which are considered to be among the most expensive varieties of teas in the world. Glassbelly’s oolong rock teas are grown on rocks from the Wuyi Mountains in eastern China.

Wuyi Mountain’s most famous rock tea varieties include Rougui, Da Hong Pao and Shui Xian, which translate to Cinnamon, Big Red Robe and Narcissus.

The restaurant’s most expensive tea variety is Niu Lan Keng Rougui, a rare type of Rougui tea. This tea comes from rocks in the Niu Lan Keng valley brook, located in the Wuyi Mountains. 

One brew of this tea can be bought at Glassbelly for approximately $3,577, while one kilogram costs approximately $184,615. For comparison, a 150-200 ml pot of tea would generally be made with around five grams of tea leaves.

The founder of Glassbelly, Wing Yeung, explained to CNN that it is difficult to get authentic tea due to selling techniques that are “stuck like it was 1,000 years” involving “hushed business talks and secret deals.” 

“Everyone in Wuyi would try to sell you the ‘authentic Da Hong Pao’ but there are only six mother Da Hong Pao trees – and they aren’t for sale. Authentic Da Hong Pao bred solely from the original trees is also very limited. So it’s very hard to find out whether a tea is what the seller claims it is,” Yeung explained. 

Yeung adds that the Niu Lan Keng Rougui tea’s “complexity” is what makes the tea so expensive.

“It should be clear, fragrant, ‘gan,’ harmonious and alive – it changes on your tongue,” she said. “I think this is how a good tea should taste. And here’s what you were looking for – the answer to why tea could cost so much.”

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