About a year ago, I used the Way Back Machine/Archive.org to go back and examine the prices at conception of tea from western vendors since 2011. This was a valuable exercise and produced some interesting findings on a range of things, from price fluctuation, to the specific market each vendor aims for, etc. Crunching the numbers also statistically confirmed what many have long known. Fresh/young pu’erh prices have gone up in price by a whole lot in this decade.. I decided to update that post with teas that were added since. I added 55 spring productions in total, 51 productions from 2018 and 4 from Chawangshop’s 2017 (they were slow to add them to their site in 2017).
- The average tea in 2018 would be a $107/357g bing, or if we’re being more realistic a $60/200g Xiaobing. This compares with a $24/200g or $43/357g bing that would’ve been the average of 2011.
2017 vs. 2018 Median Productions were Virtually the Same Price
|Vendor||2017 Median $/g||2018 Median $/g|
|Crimson Lotus Tea||$0.36||$0.34|
For the dataset I used the spring pu’erh productions from Chawangshop, Crimson Lotus Tea, Tea Urchin, White2Tea, and Yunnan Sourcing. These vendors have been pressing tea on their own label since at least 2014, with YS and CWS having pressed tea since 2011. The list is not totally complete and it is likely there are certain productions missing. There are also other productions where I couldn’t verify the release price. It’s a dataset that spans 353 productions over 8 years (2011-2018)..
- I excluded pu-erh.sk and Essence of Tea because the exchange rate makes these calculations complicated (they don’t deal in USD). Other vendors that haven’t been pressing as long (i.e. BLT) were also excluded.
Averaged Vendor Median $/g & Vendor Adjusted Price
|Year||# Vendors||Averaged Vendor Median $/g||Vendor Adjusted Price Average|
|Vendor||# Years||Total Teas||
% Price Compared to Typical $/G in Year
|Crimson Lotus Tea||5||37||5.57%|
W2T/TU Sell More Expensive Tea, YS & CWS Sell Less Expensive Tea. CLT Splits the Difference
This table essentially shows which price range vendors tend to focus on. It also confirms what most people familiar with the pu’erh scene already know. W2T is the most active participant in the higher-end market (TU used to make more). Whereas YS is the most active in a wider range, including less costly teas. The median YS tea (of 2011-2018) would be ~$0.14/g or $28/200g while the median W2T would be ~$0.41/g or $82/200g.
My Own Reflections
As many of you know, I’m not an avid sampler or buyer of young pu’erh. It has been four years since I’ve made a cake purchases of a young tea. I simply get more enjoyment and in my opinion value with semi-aged and aged teas. If you’re unconvinced, it’s worth taking a look at the case I’ve made in the previous post about how semi-aged tea can represent superior value.
This analysis is more or less an interesting exercise for me, and does not have direct purchasing implications. I do think it is worth noting that despite buying almost exclusively 10-20 year old tea my own average $/g purchase is lower than the median $107/357g cake. This average hovers between $0.20-$0.30/g (depending on how you do the math). Would I rather have these than the median 2018 (or 2019) sheng. Undoubtedly so.