Wanderfood Wednesday — Sipping $400.00 Chinese Tea

Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Korea, Wanderfood Wednesday | 20 comments

Here we are for another week of  Wanderfood Wednesday kindly hosted by Wanderlust and Lipstick.

When was the last time you got to sip on $400.00 tea?  As a budget traveler, who even though I never object to a splurge now and again,  I  can say never. However, that all changed a couple of weeks ago when I attended the Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival in the tiny city of Mungyeong-si (si means city in Korean).  One of the highlights  was to try the  many different teas on offer.

The Koreans are well known for their green tea production and for producing tea from various flowers and other plants. However, when it comes to black tea they usually import it from China. The black tea we were served was Puerh (or Puer) grown in Yunnan, China.  I loved watching the owner of the first tea shop prepare the tea for drinking. He boiled the water and then to heat the teapot he poured the boiling water over the pot several times. Then in went the leaves, and not in a strainer. Finally, tea was poured over the pot.

The first tea was nine years old, and a round 6″ disk of tea (about 1/2 an inch thick) was $400.00! The tea was fantastic, and I sipped as many as he offered. Then we tried one that was eight years old, and another that was two years old. The eight year old tea could be bought for 150.00 and the 2 year old for 40.00. All were good, but I must say I liked the 400.00 tea the best. Too bad I couldn’t have done a blind taste test!

The tea “round” on the left is 9 years old and sells for $400.00(US), and the other was 8 years old selling for $150.00(US).

At my next stop I also drank Puerh Tea. The young lady serving the tea here spoke excellent English. This particular Puerh sold for $100.00 (US) The tea server here informed me that this tea is very popular with rich Europeans.

Next, it was time to move onto Taiwan where we were served delicious red tea. This particular spot was very busy, and we didn’t get into tea prices. Although, I am sure the tea was not cheap.

In Taiwanese tea drinking the tea is first poured into the tallish cup.  Then it’s covered with the short, round cup. Lastly you turn the two cups very quickly and the tea is transferred into the short round cup. I did this without spilling a drop. I was amazed!

Finally, we were treated to a traditional Korean tea ceremony.  This is one that I know and love. Korean green tea is served by female servers dressed in beautiful Korean hanbok, along with dainty Korean cookies. The ceremony is both elegant and calming.

If you are ever in Korea during May, head to the tiny city of Mungyeong-si  and enjoy some tea tasting at the Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival (click to visit the website). Admission along with all the tea you can drink is FREE.

You can learn more about the delicious Puer tea here.

Please leave a comment, give me a stumble or a tweet. I will reciprocate.

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  1. Great write up as always, Nancy. $400 tea! Glad to hear it was delicious after all.

    • @Beth……………Yes, when you have the chance give it a try.

  2. Wow, what an experience – lovely photos! 🙂

  3. You have quite the discerning palate! I wonder why they pour tea over the pot as part of the process. Very interesting post!

  4. I love tea, but I never have got to drink tea as expensive (or I'm sure as good) as the kind you were trying. I've never heard of someone pouring tea over the teapot as part of its preperation. Is this a part of a traditional tea ceremony or is this something that the owner of that particular tea shop does?

  5. I love this! There's so much I don't know about tea, it's like a scientific process. I'd be pretty curious to try the $400 tea.

  6. @Candice…………….I'm with you there Candice, and I want to learn more. I was always a coffee drinker, but over the past couple of years I've pretty much switched to tea. The 400.00 tea is very smooth!

  7. @Steve…………….I asked why he poured the tea over the pot, and was told that it's done to keep the tea pot hot, so the tea inside the pot stays hot. This was done by all the tea shop owners as part of the tradition.

  8. @Angela…………..I have the knack of liking to choosing the most expensive in the store…………haha. I wish my budget always matched my taste. They pour the tea over the pot to keep the tea inside of the pot hot.

  9. @Stephanie…………..I had a great time!

  10. @Beth……………Thanks Beth. Yes, if you ever get the chance do try it.

  11. incredible. how long does one disk last?? those are some crazy prices!! yum for you, though!

    • Hi Jessie………………..A disk can last a long time. You can get a lot of tea out of a few leaves. I was surprised at they reuse the leaves.

  12. I am amazed people pay that much for tea. I did a coffee planation tour in Panama and they were talking about some beans that people paid over $1,000 a pound for. Wowser.

    • Crazy, eh? I’d rather travel with that $1000 and drink coffee with the locals 🙂

  13. Tea rituals are so fascinating. The one I fell into during my time in China was nothing like this — but still one of my favorite memories from the trip. Great post!!

    • Every Asian country seems to have their own tea ritual. For me, that’s what makes them so interesting.

  14. 9 years old tea, that’s amazing!

  15. Tea is my favorite drink. I’ll have to mark this down as a must do, right under my top spot of visiting the maple syrup festival in Canada 🙂

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