@lahikmajoe maybe u can blog about acceptable prices? I'm a loose leaf newbie. My 1st purchase, I paid a lot! I realize I need to researchSounds like a simple enough request, right? 'Why does tea cost so much?' Why, indeed. 'What're acceptable prices?'
— Brian F(@BRFoo) April 30, 2012
I'm afraid I can only give a small sliver of the answer. My knowledge of the tea industry is only from the perspective of the end user. The customer.
someone better qualified
When I have questions like this, I often turn to Xavier (@teaconomics). He studied economics, and has a mind for such things. When he and I visited tea shops in Nice earlier this year, he had a very logical and well thought out response to 'Why does tea cost so much?'
If you don't know his blog, you really should take a gander here: Teaconomics.
He writes about where tea and economics meet (hence the blog's inventive name). Although I couldn't begin to create the in depth analysis he does, I find his writing compelling and tend to celebrate whenever I see a new blogpost over there.
Having dealt with the reality that there are economic factors that make tea expensive, now I can get on to my more emotional response. And the way I'll begin my answer to whatever financial rationalisation you throw my way is with one simple declarative word: Bollocks!
Yes, it's a commodity. I understand that this is a product that comes from a plant, and that growing conditions can make for a myriad of hassles and unforeseen circumstances. There are tea auctions and logistics to bring the sacks of tea to your country. If you've got a stand alone shop, there's rent and overhead and I could go on and on about that part of the argument.
but wait just a minute
However, I continue to disagree. I believe tea doesn't have to be so dear. It really doesn't.
The impression I get is that tea is marketed and sold as a luxury item. That means it's purposely priced highly and intended to be viewed as something to be valued. I understand that and if I thought it was the actual tea growers who were getting the inflated profits, I might be more sympathetic.
From what I've heard and read, that's rarely the case. The sometimes obscene prices go primarily to those who have marketed it. I'm not against marketing at all.
I'll be in the United States again later this May, and I danced around this topic when I was there last year. It's something I'm sure I'll write about more extensively. The good news for Brian and others tea newcomers is that many of us are constantly on the lookout for reasonably-priced tea.
Is that really too much to ask?
(photo source: Source of Inspiration)