At the swanky Rubens at the Palace, a pot of said tea is priced at a cool £500 (S$838), making it the most expensive tea in the United Kingdom. To make your money’s worth, you’ll get a glass of champagne, freshly baked scones, an assortment of pastries and elegant finger sandwiches to go with it.
Why the extravagant price tag? The hotel’s spokesman explained that Golden Tips tea is not only rare, but its production entirely natural and, thus, slow. Few estates plant these bushes, which must be tended to for about seven years before their silvery buds yield mature, fuzzy tips that are ripe for the picking.
This slow growth can be attributed to the cool climate of the Sri Lankan highlands where the tea is grown. The mild weather translates to a longer time for flavour to develop on the bush. When ready, only the fine tips are picked and then sundried on a swathe of velvet cloth until they turn from silver to gold. After that, it’s off to market.