How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it of course. But I bet Moses never got a chance to enjoy a 100 year old vintage tea that costs $600,000. This round disc of tea, which weighs 375 grams, is raw compressed pu’erh (a type of black tea.) It was recently imported into North America for the first time by a vintage tea wholesaler based in Vancouver. This tea is said to be the most valuable of vintage teas in the world. Wealthy hipsters in Vancouver can finally get their hands on some expensive tea to go along with their expensive Vancouver bungalows.
Brewing this $600,000 tea’s first pot would cost about $150,000, including the depreciation from breaking up the disc. It’s like driving a new car off the lot. Personally it’s a little out of my price range so I’m just going to move oolong, because there’s nothing for me to tea here.
Pu’erh is known as the “king of teas” in some parts of China. It’s been drunk by emperors and monks. It’s even said that wars have been fought over it according to the Province article. Much like a fine wine or Scotch whiskey, vintage tea becomes better with age, gaining a richness and complexity in flavour as it matures. This particular tea dates back to around 1910.
Many people collect tea the same way they collect art or vintage wine. $600,000 for a 375 gram tea cake works out to a price per weight ratio of $1,600/gram. Let’s see if this tea has been a good investment over the last century. If we assume the vintage tea was originally $1/gram 100 years ago then we can easily calculate its average annual return.
($1,600/$1)^(1/100 years) = 1.077
So this tea cake has increased in value by 7.7% every year on average over the last 100 years. Not as good as the stock market over the same period but it’s still a decent return regardless. As an alternative asset class I can see myself investing in vintage tea, or maybe even vintage tea cups. Large chains such as Teavana and Quebec-based David’s Tea are becoming more popular across North America. Tea consumption in Canada is expected to grow 40% in the next 6 years, according to Agriculture Canada. Maybe I’ll just pick up some Earl Grey and store it in a cool and dry place. I’ll wait 50 years, pass it onto my grandchildren, and give them instructions to sell it after another 50 years. Why limit my investment time horizon to just a lifetime when I can go multi-generational?
Random Useless Fact:
42 years ago a Big Mac was only $0.65. Today it’s almost $5.00. #foodinflation