Saturday, 25 September 2010

Tea Stuff Round-Up: Mind-boggling Prices, Tourism and more!

Tea often seems to be touted as a (relatively) inexpensive luxury, particularly when you can infuse the same leaves multiple times. However, over the last few days my twitter stream has been boggling at recent news reporting that shows the commodity price of Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) has risen to $30,000 per kilogram. Yes... even if you could get say, 8 infusions from your teaspoon's worth of leaves... that's still damn expensive tea!

I have recently discovered the Travel and Tea blog - great photos of tea around the world, by the way - and was interested to read about tea tourism in India. I wouldn't mind staying at a tea plantation in Darjeeling... There are also apparently tea tours available for visitors to Taiwan. I'm far from being a seasoned traveller, and confess happily to being very much a homebody, but I would love to visit tea-producing areas and see how the process works. Too exciting!

A further post on the issue of tea being marketed as a medicine (and Unilever/Lipton getting smacked by the FDA, as I already mentioned here), this time from Cinnabar at Gongfu Girl. I particularly like this point that she makes: tea drinkers we really do not want it to ever be sanctioned and regulated by the FDA as a medicine. This would have enormous and far-reaching impact on the tea industry which would severely damage it, because aroma, flavor, tradition, character, etc. have no bearing on the validity of a substance as medicine. Medicine just has to do what it is sold to do. 

When I was completing my naturopathic studies there was regular discussion of similar problems regarding the use of herbal medicines and the level of regulation which they attracted - trying to find the balance between safety and 'proven' efficacy - not simple (and of course herbal medicine is big business these days as well). The thing with herbs - and I'm including Camellia sinensis tea here as well - is that they are so much more than the sum of their parts, and when you put them into the complexity of the human body - no wonder it's hard to get a standard response. But should we want to? I think probably not.

And finally - have you ever wondered why the tea leaves sink to the bottom of your cup rather than sticking to the sides?

No, I haven't either. But now that I've seen this article explaining the science behind 'the tea leaf paradox', discovered by Einstein no less (thanks to this post by Tea Guy for the link) I realise that I probably should have! And I feel ever so much better informed. So should you.


  1. Some interesting info! Thanks for sharing, Verity.

  2. thanks for this post - very interesting :)

  3. No, like I hadn't really given the tea leaves question a lot of thought. I guess Einstein beat me to it.. I did however, check out the link, which was pretty interesting!

    Thanks for all this,


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