False Marketing for High Prices

Spotlight on Junshan Yellow Tea - the worlds most expensive tea.

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There is a lot of false marketing in the tea business. This is not always intentional and sometimes cannot be helped by tea sellers.

It usually starts with a little fib told by a tea farmer or tea wholesaler. This little lie means that they can increase the price of their tea and the lie becomes accepted as truth by the tea seller. It might be something to do with the area that the tea was produced, the processing details or the variety and age of the tea plants.

It is very difficult for any wholesaler or tea supplier to check every single aspect of the tea's provenance no matter hard they might try. Unless a seller is physically following the leaves from plucking to brewing, there is always the chance of a little trick here or there.

This is where experience counts. A good tea buyer has heard all the lies before and can make judgements on the quality of the tea through looking and tasting the tea on offer. An experienced tea buyer has already formed strong relationships with honest producers and cut ties with those that have been less than trustworthy. We have gone through this culling process for nearly 15 years.

There is always the juicy temptation for the tea seller to blindly believe the lie even though they suspect it is not true. It means that they can spread the lie forwards and mark up their prices accordingly.

A case in point is Junshan Yinzhen, one of the most revered teas in China and the worlds most expensive tea. Almost all of the Junshan Yinzhen being sold on the tea market is advertised as being produced on Junshan Island - the historic birthplace of this tea.

Junshan island is a tiny island on Dong Ting Lake in Hunan province. It is less than one square kilometre in size and has small tea plantations which are state owned and operated by one company. Any tea made on Junshan island commands astronomical prices because it is produced in tiny quantities with the strictest controls. The majority of the tea is used as tribute tea for government officials, diplomats and VIP's.

It is possible to buy tea from Junshan island and I have no doubt that some sellers have spent shedloads of cash on getting some for their clients. Expect prices well over $100 for 10g. But, it is quite clear that the majority of Junshan Yinzhen on the market is NOT from the island but from other plantations in Hunan. This is still very high quality tea but does not have the same snob value as genuine Junshan Island tea. I suspect that most tea sellers are willing to believe the lie being told to them so that they can proclaim their tea as true Junshan Yinzhen with a high price tag (although it is rarely as high as true Junshan tea should be). This is not good practice and damages the tea industry because it puts pressure on all the other sellers to tell the same lie.

So, to break the cycle, we are proudly proclaiming that our Diamond Peak Junshan Yinzhen is NOT from Junshan. It is picked and produced in the lovely region of Pingjiang close by Junshan in Hunan. It is an exemplary yellow tea which is very close to the flavour of the island tea without the crazy prices and we are proud to have it in our collection.

 

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