The most expensive tea in Japan14 October, 2010 by Chad
MJ helped to grab this from Ginza a few weeks ago. Inside the intricately wrapped gift box marked Benoist is probably the the most expensive tea I’ll ever drink, Silver Tip Darjeeling that cost over $50 for a little more than 100g of tea leaves.
If you’re familiar with Densha Otoko, then you’d most likely heard of the Benoist name, as the brand was made popular by the original 2ch encounter as well as the eventual film and drama recreations. It was the tea that Hermes served to Densha during his first visit to her house. There is a certain amount of fantasy and romanticism surrounding the tea, due to how it was related to the couple’s real life story.
For those who don’t mind the risk of losing some of the magic in exchange for some little know truths about the tea’s origins, read on.
When Densha asked about Benoist on the 2ch forums. One of the members promptly did a search on the internet and explained the following:
“It is sold exclusively to the royal family and high class restaurants, and not at all sold in retail.
Apparently Japan is the only country in the world in which it’s sold in retail.
They’re well-known for having rigid quality control, and are one of few companies permitted to use three crowns of the royal family in its crest.”
Internet forums are of course the last place you go to for reliable information, much less 2ch. There is still a certain amount of truth to the legend.
Benoist is actually a venture by Twinings into Japan that opened in 1910. The Twinings company is of course really the exclusive supplier of tea to the British Royal Family, what with its 300 year history and all. But it’s also a rather common brand and you can easily get a box of their lower grade tea for less than 10 bucks at most supermarkets.
However, the company ships the higher grade offerings exclusively to Ginza and markets as Benoist. Which you must admit, sounds way more expensive than Twinings.
I do enjoy my tea, and did spend some time many years back selling overpriced gourmet teas myself. But when it comes to the subject, I don’t claim to be an expert. Still, the tea was nice. It was really smooth and definitely better than what you’d get from supermarkets but worth the price? Still it makes more sense than the overpriced and completely fictional TWG tea. I guess Benoist is just one of those you try once in a lifetime for novelty’ sake.
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