Vintage Tea Comes to Canada

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. 😀

Vintage Tea

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. 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


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03/07/2015 8:52 am

ALso hence the name TEA TOTALER as you add up the cost of each cup you drink. 🙂


03/07/2015 9:21 am

I’ve drank pu’erh tea at dim sum. Thankfully it didn’t cost me my life savings

03/07/2015 8:30 pm

My family had some coffee farms with some tea tree (shrubs). Growing up, I learned about growing coffee and tea business. But now I drink neither one of them. The business of making the tea fascinate me, but as a scientist in the medical field, I see coffee and tea as medicine, don’t fix what ain’t break. Then, when you actually want to use it as medicine, it doesn’t work anymore (caffeine for infant, caffeine for migraine, caffeine for somnolence, etc)

With my opinion aside, people will do everything to hedge against the currency – gold, art, tea, wine, coin, collectible, antiques … But these physical items are harder to sell. Then imagine you hold in your hand this $600k item, but you’d rather sell for that amount and never gotten a chance to taste how good it is?

Two Degrees
Two Degrees
03/08/2015 7:23 am

I can barely afford David’s Tea. I finally treated myself to a box last month.

Have you heard of the Italian cheese bank?

The Asian Pear
03/08/2015 9:28 am

I love Pu’Erh tea. And it’s true… the older it becomes, the better it is and more expensive it is. My family finished a 30 year tea a few years ago and I was horribly upset. We have some 10 year old discs but they do not taste as good. But to answer your question, no. No tea is work $600K.

03/08/2015 4:20 pm

Holy cow man. $600K. Haha. I cannot even afford to buy bubble tea often. Forget about $600K.