I recently read reviews about a small tea firm in Mie Prefecture, Japan. For the most part reviews were highly favourable, though a few buyers were rather bitter that their experiences did not match their expectations. On one occasion the buyer attacked the product as tasting “cheap and not good”. The product, in this case, being a 1 pound, 1 ounce bag of gyokuro that sold for £27.00 in proper currency. Gyokuro, for those not overly familiar with Japanese teas, is a shade-grown green tea that is among the more dear. Because it is processed somewhat differently than a typical sencha, a more potent tea, brewing recommendations are somewhat different. To obtain the same strength as an average sencha, twice the amount is needed. If one does not take into account the differences, it seems readily apparent that there will be unavoidable disappointment.
Furthermore, if an average lapsang souchong runs £8.00 for just over an ounce and a tolerable Darjeeling goes for £2.00 per ounce then it should be clear that 17 ounces of a higher-tier tea for £27.00 is rather on the low end. After all, a ceremony-grade matcha costs approximately £15.00 per ounce and the inferior cooking-grade costs a mere £9.00 per ounce.
In case anyone is wondering why I am prattling on about the price of tea and the occasional idiot whingeing about not buying gold for the price of lead I will try to make my point now. The whinger was a septic; probably someone who has the pretension of being a connoisseur. I by no means suffer from this delusion, although I humbly claim to be able to note the difference between Lipton’s at a cheap American restaurant and tea at Claridge’s.