In 2012, Yunnan Sourcing released a spring Wuliang tea that sold for $23/400g. Since then, Scott has pressed five more spring Wuliangs, most recently in 2018. This time it was priced at $43/400g, an effective price raise of 87%. This post is an investigation on how the release price of nine different tea productions by Yunnan Sourcing have shifted over the years. It is another data-centric way to look at price change over the years. It’s more simplistic than previous investigations but is intuitive and easy to understand.
I started with the same list previously used to look at pu’erh prices at their conception and filtered out all the productions not made by Yunnan Sourcing. From here I took the pressings that Yunnan Sourcing did and took the nine productions that had four or more spring productions. Between 2011 and 2018, Yunnan Sourcing produced Wuliang tea six times so I used this tea for my dataset.
These nine productions are a varied bunch, but are predominantly based outside of Xishuangbanna, something true of much of Scott’s tea. This is an observation worth noting, as XIshuangbanna is probably the most important prefecture for pu’erh and the one with some of the highest prices.
Why Yunnan Sourcing?
Yunnan Sourcing is the longest running western facing vendor and the most stable. Scott presses frequently from the same areas and has well-established connections in Yunnan. Not many vendors make the same production for more than two or three years and often they’re blends, which add complexity to any price comparison. This makes YS an ideal vendor to see how prices may have evolved over time.
The Eye Test
A quick look at the data verifies that all nine teas cost more in their most recent productions than their older ones. The amount varies a lot and is anywhere as low as 15% (Bangdong, 2014/2018) to ~550% (Ailao 2011/2018, Manzhuan 2012/2018).
Prices Amongst this Dataset Increased Fast Overall
Vendor Adjusted Price Change & Average % Increase (9 Productions)
|Year||Vendor Adjusted Price Average||% Increase/Year||Average % Increase (9 Productions)|
|Total % Change||150.00%||276.05%|
- One of the more stable teas with six data points, Wuliang rose in price by 87% over the course of six years.
Caveats & Limitations
I like this comparison, because the growing area is theoretically the same so it feels closer to comparing apples to apples rather than apples to oranges. But there is still a lot about the productions we don’t know. Which farmers were used and did it vary year to year? If we look at Ailao, this was a regular inexpensive production by Scott for 2011-2014 ($18-25/400g), before he stopped from 2015-2017. In 2018 he pressed another one, but it was several times more expensive at $118/400g.. Did all Ailao tea shoot up in price in those four years? Or did Scott switch source to something much more premium/higher end? These two different scenarios would have totally different implications on pricing trends. If I were to take an educated guess, I’d pick the latter mainly because we have not seen a huge jump in nearby areas (Wuliang/Jinggu) in the timeframe from 2014 to 2018 and judging from what has been said of the tea.
Compared with previous investigations on pu’erh price this is a smaller sample size and is overall less rigorous in my opinion. The exact precision of this probably is just OK, but it does line up and corroborate with what we know about price trends (they’ve gone way up!).