The World’s Most Expensive Tea?

The World’s Most Expensive Tea?

Category : Food


Singapore has no end of expatriate ‘ladies who lunch’, and therefore no end of fancy cafes and tea rooms happy to entertain them whilst lightening their wallets. Once in a while, as a special treat, I like to dip my toe into their rarefied waters…

This week I was astonished by the menu at TWG, a very upmarket local chain whose menu of tasting notes was as thick as September Vogue. Don’t expect immediate service here, because they need to give you at least 20 minutes to flip through the choices on offer.

There are literally hundreds of different blends, sourced from around the world, served in a myriad different ways, which makes deciding what to pick a problem. I’d suggest you start by looking at the prices…

Amongst such delights as Tea Mocktails (which include such items as sparkling white wine with pink flamingo tea), and Tea Milkshake (choose between tea ice cream or tea sorbet with that), are the likes of Weekend in Singapore tea, (embellished with tart red fruits, a fragrant hint of anise and notes of sweet caramel, ‘a tribute to the garden city’), and Singapore Surprise tea, (a twist on the café’s signature dessert of crème brulée with strawberries on a tea infused crust).

Most of those are a fairly reasonable – under the circumstances – S$16 or thereabouts.

But look more closely at the menu. You can also have a pot of Yellow Gold tea buds, each bud ‘lavished’ in 24 carat gold to give a metallic and floral aftertaste. According to the menu, this one was a favourite of Chinese Emperors, who, as this costs S$105 a pot, were presumably the only ones who could afford it.

The most expensive, however, is the Imperial Gyokuro tea, from the tea plantations of Asahiro. Apparently only 3 kilos of this tea exist in the world and it has never before been available outside Japan. It is grown under hand woven rice mats which somehow help the bright green leaves absorb precious minerals and concentrate its sweet flavour. A snip, at just under S$230 a pot.

And no, of course I didn’t! An S$11 pot of Kathmandu Hill blend was nice enough for me…