Tea Culture

What Determines a Tea’s Price? A Non-comprehensive Look At the Pricing of Japanese Tea

There are many factors that determine the price of a tea. Higher quality tea will have a higher price, but by what standards to hold for teas that are deemed “high quality”? Like wine, the growing area is important. The tea grown in a specific prefecture, area, or even a specific farm known for high quality tea will generally be more expensive.

Let’s use our Sencha Fukamidori as an example. It is $55 per pound, is first flush tea, is picked in Shizuoka and made of the Yabukita cultivar; quite standard. It is one of the top selling teas in our catalog. Yabukita is quite a common cultivar and Shizuoka is a common area for the growing, picking, and processing of tea, so $55 a pound is quite reasonable. How this tea does stick out is that it is culmination of years of experimentation to perfect the steaming and roasting process. This make it unique to Den’s Tea.

Compare that to one our Organic Sencha Uji. Around $152 per pound, it is first flush tea that was picked in Uji, Kyoto. It is a blend of the Yabukita and the more rare Okumidori cultivars and is truly special. It goes through a short shading period which enhances the L-theanine content in the leaf. This invites a calming atmosphere for the drinker but also imparts a seaweed-like aroma and umami mouthfeel which balances the blooming, bright nature of it’s flavor.

So, though they are both sencha, they are different teas, grown in different areas with different growing methods. Different producers will experiment with different aspect of the production process to create a tea that works for them. It could be said that the more work that goes into harvesting the leaves, the production size itself, where the leaves come from, etc. are all responsible for such a huge difference in price between the two. I recommend you get a 2oz size of both and taste the difference yourself.

“Ah, but they are both first flush tea.”
That is a good point.

1st flush tea is generally more expensive, especially for Japanese tea, especially the first pickings of the first flush. This is because the younger leaves are considered to be a higher grade. This tea, known as shincha, is quite popular in Japan. We sell this as a seasonal tea and it is quite popular among tea fanatics and regular folks alike.

Finally, to conclude, higher price does not equal “better.” “Better”, really, is quite a subjective term that is probably tied to some generalities surrounding tea. An inexpensive 300g jar of tea, of an unknown flush, from an obscure country, with only the name “GREEN TEA” on it, that smells like a dusty metal rack probably is not going to be the cleanest tea you have tasted. Still, the enjoyment you get from a tea is not necessarily correlated to the price of a tea. Sencha Fukamidori is one of our most popular teas, is reasonably priced, and is well-loved by our community. One of our more expensive teas, our Koicha Hoshino (a matcha), is also beloved by many. So it really depends on your preferences.

That being said, we’d love to hear your questions or comments regarding this topic. You can reach out to info@denstea.com and subscribe to our newsletter by visiting our website and entering your email address in the designated box at the bottom of the page. Also, feel free to follow our instagram and tiktok for more tea related content.