Famous and Rare Teas

Famous and rare teas come from all over the world, but the vast majority comes from China and India.  The sale of rare tea is by auction attended by tea brokers.  The general public usually knows very little about rare teas due to cost or lack of availability.  Only wealthy tea connoisseurs have the resources to obtain these teas.   

Several things make a tea rare.  Tea plants grow in flushes.  The first harvest includes the top two leaves and buds in the first flush. This flush makes prime tea.  A period of time passes and as more tender leaves grow a second flush is harvested and so on.  There are about four or five flushes per year per tea plant, and those growing at higher elevations have less flush producing abilities.  Older tea plants produce more leaves than younger ones.  A bush that is over 50 years old produces a great deal during a flush.  Rare tea comes from both young and old plants but mostly from historic plants that have established themselves well.  The area where the plant is grown also affects if a tea is rare or not. Certain flavors and other attributes come from the soil in which it is grown.  Processing of the tea likewise contributes to rarity. 

Some famous teas are also rare, but this is not always the case.  Many famous teas are readily accessible to the public.  They are just famous because of flavor or they may have an interesting legend attached to them. An example is Earl Grey tea that saw a huge sales boost when Jean Luke Piccard drank it on Star Trek. Like rare teas, famous teas generally cost more than regular tea.  Other words that might describe rare or famous teas are premium, gourmet, choice and specialty.  Packaging might be a little more ornate for these teas as well.

Large distributors who sell to brokers purchase tealeaves.  Brokers, in turn, sell tea to individuals or tea houses who sell to the public.  When a rare tea sold, the broker will send out small samples to known connoisseurs who can afford the tea.  The purchase of rare tea happens after one of their master tasters samples the tea and explains all the attributes. Many times rare tea is not sold at all, but rather given as gifts to important individuals. 

Wuyi Mountain in China produces an oolong tea that comes from ancient tea plants.  The name of this tea is Da Hong Pao or Big Red Robe.  It is the most expensive tea in the world and extremely rare.  The purchase of lower grade Wuyi tea is possible, but the tealeaves used come from tea bushes further away from the four original ancient plants.  Bushes planted centuries ago or those propagated directly from them provide the truly rare tea.

Dragon Well tea is a famous green tea from China known for its sweet and smooth flavor.  Processing of the leaves is different from most teas and they appear long and flat. There are several grades of Dragon Well tea with several different prices.  The most expensive is the tastiest but lower grades also have that special smooth flavor drinkers love.

Other rare and famous teas include Silver Needle tea, a white tea from Jujian China and Green Spring Snail tea from Tai Lake in the Suzhou province of China.  Dimbula tea from India is a blend of Ceylon teas grown 5000 feet above sea level. It yields a very clean flavor.  Rooibus tea is a red colored tea from South Africa that tastes spicy.  A pinewood fire dries leaves of Keeman, Yunnan and Lapsang Souchong resulting in a smoky flavor.  Gunpowder tea is famous only because of the way it looks.  It is ground and formed into pellets instead of presenting as tealeaves. 

Rare and famous teas provide a special treat for those who can obtain and afford them.  Swing by a specialty tea store as many offer a taste of higher quality teas to potential customers.

Unity Teapots sells fine Asian tea ware, and is a great source to find kyusu teapots, Yixing teapots, and cast iron teapots.

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