Last month, I entered a contest in our local paper and won an afternoon tea for two at the Conrad Hotel, one of the swankest, most expensive resort hotels in the Algarve. My wife and I enjoyed the opportunity to go somewhere we wouldn’t ordinarily go, and do something we wouldn’t ordinarily spend the money on. It was a nice afternoon tea, and we especially appreciated the chance to try a tea variety that was wildly different from anything in our rather capacious tea drawer at home. (Which is full of loose leaf teas ordered from the UK and the US. Yes, we are tea snobs — no bags for us!) It was a smoky Ceylon Souchong, so interesting and unique in its flavor that we agreed we’d like to buy some later, when we had a bit more cash on hand.
Fast forward one month. Yesterday I was at the Conrad for an errand, and swung by the lounge to pick up that tea. The very nice woman working there gave me the story of their tea selection, and then kindly warned me that I might be a little surprised at the price tag. I said (thinking, “Well, it’s the Conrad”) that I was expecting it to be expensive. She nodded, tapped a few keys on her computer, and said, “It’s 94 euros.”
Now, I’m not sure exactly how big that box of tea was, but I’m guessing 125 grams. That means this tea costs €752 per kilo. (US readers: about $470 per pound.)
I said, “Okay, you were right. I’m surprised. And there’s no way I can do that.”
She laughed and sympathized, and then she took a little cloth tea bag out of a drawer, dipped into the tin of tea, and gave me a few spoonfuls of it. “That’s enough for a cup,” she said, and I thought, Hell no, that’s enough for six cups if I manage it properly and double-steep it.
Then she gave me the web site of the company and suggested that I might be able to order it online. I thanked her for her kindness, went home and put that precious tea into a ziplock, and then hopped online.
Here is how you know you can’t afford a tea. First, there is no price listed anywhere on the entire web site. Then, it says this on the contact page:
Our Teamaker’s Private Reserves teas and infusions are very selectively offered in the finest hospitality establishments in the world. They can be ordered for supply via courier delivery by special arrangement. If you wish to purchase one of the Teamaker’s Private Reserve, please email us on email@example.com.
Courier delivery! And email to order — no plebeian shopping baskets here.
So there will be no Rilhena Estate Ceylon Souchong in this house…at least, not after I finish parceling out those precious leaves in the ziplock. I figure those suckers are worth the price of dinner for two at our favorite frango restaurant. This is tea for the one percent.