There’s no way to determine in a factual sense what the world’s most exclusive teas are. But because tea is a fascinating drink offered in different forms in remote, expensive, or otherwise exclusive destinations all over the world, it at least makes for an interesting discussion.
Many enthusiastic tea drinkers would do anything to get their hands on a mug that requires real luck or effort to get. So without further ado, let’s look at some of the opportunities to do just that.
5. Yak Butter Tea in the Jiuzhaigou Valley
It’s understandable if this doesn’t sound appetizing right off the bat. “Yak butter” isn’t exactly the most appealing set of words you could put together for a menu. But if you’re looking for obscure, rare, exotic, or exclusive teas, this is an interesting option.
Eater did a whole profile of this kind of tea, which comes from the Jiuzhaigou Valley in Tibet. It’s a sort of local preparation, described as creamy and substantial and overflowing with healthy fats.
Ingredient-wise, it’s basically a traditional Chinese black tea combined with yak butter, salt, milk curds, and toasted barley powder, all mixed together in a bowl. Its exclusivity comes from the simple fact that you really can’t imitate it elsewhere. It’s where the popular “Bulletproof” drinks drew their inspiration from.
Gyokuro is less a destination than a type of tea that happens to be extraordinarily expensive and rare. Hailing from the Uji district in Japan, Gyokuro is known for its vibrant green color, as well as for a strong, distinctive, and by most accounts wonderful flavor. Lesser varieties are affordable, but the authentic tea can be well over $500 for a kilogram.
3. Winners Brew Lottery Tea
This is perhaps the strangest offering on the list, but the one you might most hope to try one day. The “Winners Brew” is a British lottery tradition – a special cup of tea made by the famous Tetley Tea specially for people who have just won the lottery.
Oddly enough, statistics indicate that a lot of people who win the lottery immediately opt for a cup of tea, and for that matter the drink is actually recommended for gamblers in the first place. Along with coffee, tea has been proven in scientific research to boost brain function, so it’s on the list of nutritional boosters for gamers – though the lottery requires more luck than brainpower. Whatever the case the tea itself is said to be quite special, gathered from Mount Kenya and infused with gold leaf stars.
2. Tieguanyin Tea in the Fujin Province
Like Gyokuro, Tieguanyin tea is renowned for its flavor and preparation process. It comes from the high mountains of the Fujin Province in China, and is basically a special variety of Oolong tea named for Tieguanyin.
She is known as the “Iron Goddess” of mercy, though at this point if you look her up you’ll almost exclusively find references to the tea. The process by which the tea is made can take days, which of course will make it all the more special to people seeking a unique drinking experience.
1. Mt. Huashan Tea
This may not be the most remarkable tea on this list, but in one sense it’s definitely the most exclusive. This tea is brewed and served at a Taoist temple on one of the five peaks of Mt. Huashan in Huayin, China. And this isn’t a temple you can simply hike or take a bus to.
The journey involves climbing steep stairs cut into the base of the mountain, hiking along (and up) various trails, riding cable cars between peaks, and walking along narrow wooden shelves nailed onto the sides of cliffs, with nothing but chains to cling to. While not entirely without risk, it’s a stunning experience for adventurers – and makes the tea at the end of the trip well worth it.