Buying tea is a matter of trust, and trust is earned through transparency. This idea is simple enough, but in the international tea market creating transparency is no easy task. Worldwide, over eight billion pounds of tea were produced last year. A little simple math would reveal that this staggering amount would provide each person on the planet with a cup of tea every day for the entire year.
The pyramid at right illustrates how one might broadly divide world tea production. The majority of the tea (56%) produced around the globe is of what would widely be considered poor quality, with an additional 43.5% being considered simply “mediocre.” This leaves a mere half of one percent – or approximately 200 tons – of high quality tea for savvy buyers across the world to vet and secure.
Among them is the renowned tea taster Thomas Holz, who leads our team of experts in the daunting task of purchase. No matter how you look at it, 200 tons is still an ocean of tea. These high quality teas find their way into our tasting room in the form of more than 10,000 samples sent to TeaGschwendner directly from the countries of origin. The daily rattle and clatter of cups reaches its crescendo during the year’s peak production season (February – November). Here our master tasters weigh, brew, pour, sip, enthuse, spit, smell and scrutinize the many samples. All their senses must come into play before we can fax or phone around the world to place our final bids.
TeaGschwendner has little use for the large auction houses in Calcutta, Mombassa, Kochi, Colombo and Djakarta, where the laws of supply and demand, rather than pure quality, determine the price of tea. Our preference is to trade personally with the growers, managers and owners of the tea gardens themselves, thus ensuring that quality is the paramount consideration. We understand the effort and expense it takes to produce exceptional tea – and that these factors must be reflected in the price.