Monday, April 29, 2013

Everyday Luxe: Coffee & Tea, Please.

Growing up in the land of Starbucks & Tully's on every street corners has its advantages and major disadvantages. Advantage? Swing on by the drive-thru Starbucks at the entrance to my high school. Disadvantage? Being a caffeine-addict at the tender(?) age of 12. Believe it or not, I'm not short due to my coffee-fueled adolescence, but just do to genetics.

The little A on the left is Starbucks, the big A on the right is my high school. Not shown: 3 more coffee shops within 5 minutes.

I quit coffee pretty much cold turkey when I entered college (with, of course, the rare exception of nearly all-nighters spent in Tyler House's dining room) and haven't really drank much since. I allow myself a sabbatical from my coffee-diet in the warm summer months, when I once again become an iced-coffee and frappuccino fiend (I miss you Woodstar Cafe).


How do I survive the winter sans coffee? It's pretty simple - I switch to tea. I hated tea all through college (although I did grow obsessed with Friday Afternoon Teas at Smith due to the delicious treats) but I realized later that I actually am just very picky with tea. I hate fruit (watered-down-warm-juice) and herbal (medicinal-yuck) and I will only do green tea if it is a side to delicious Chinese food. But black tea? Yes please.

One of the highs of my last trip to Disney World with the fabulous Kayli was that at Epcot there is a Twinings Tea Shop:

Kayli and I stocked up big time. Safe to say it was my only major purchase at Disney this time. So worth it.

Let's get onto the luxe of Everyday Luxe.

Coffee & Tea

The most expensive drink you can order at Starbucks amounts to $47.30 (article) but besides having a lot of espresso shots has a bunch of filler items (banana, strawberries, chocolate curls).

But what is the most expensive drip coffee you can get?

Look no further than the brand Kopi Luwak.

Their coffee comes from Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, is processed through a civet-like cat. So basically a cat eats the fruit, and "deposits" the coffee beans on the jungle floor because they cannot digest them. The natural fermentation process gives the beverage unique characteristics that no other beverage can replace.

Civet, civet cat, Kopi Luwak, Kopi Luwak coffee, coffee, coffee cat

The cheapest option found on their website, the Gold Blend Medium Roast, costs roughly $31 USD for a 200 gram package, or around 36 cups of coffee if you use 1 tablespoon per cup.

Civet, civet cat, Kopi Luwak, Kopi Luwak coffee, coffee, coffee cat
Or you could for for their Box Gift Set, which will give you around 27 cups of coffee for the price of $346 USD plus a fancy cup. If you're going to get the coffee state-side you better start asking your local cafe now. Only a few of them get it, and sometimes only once a year. At Bean There in Virginia - they charged $20 for an 8 oz cup.

Civet, civet cat, Kopi Luwak, Kopi Luwak coffee, coffee, coffee cat

It should be no surprise that one of most expensive teas in the world also starts out as excrement.

An entrepreneur created a fertilizer from panda feces that he uses to grow tea leaves. He claims the finished product is fragrant and smooth. It's not currently for sale to the public, but from its initial run cost drinkers about $3,500 for 50g, or about 16 cups of tea.

I borrowed this photo from Reuters

The most expensive tea in the world puts both the panda poop tea and the cat-poop coffee to shame.

Dà Hóng Páo is a prestigious oolong tea that is still sourced from the original bushes that the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor drank from. Typically the tea is not for sale, and only presented to honored guests, leaders, and emperors. The tea has only been sold at auction a handful of times, the last time for about $21,000 for 20 grams (that's less than 1 oz). It's estimated value is about $20 million USD per kilogram.

You can't buy tea from the original treas, but you can buy it from their clones. A 1lb bag will set you back $110 at the online shop of Harney & Sons. Or you can purchase it through - $56 for 200 grams.

Harney & Sons, tea, expensive tea, Dà Hóng Páo, Da Hong Pao
The most expensive tea bag? Created in 2005 to celebrate PG Tips 75th Birthday, it is worth over $14,000. Why the high price? Well it was created by jewelry specialist Boodles and contains 280 diamonds and regular tea leaves.

PG tips, tea, expensive tea, diamonds, diamonds tea
Diamonds are a tea's best friend!

Did I mention they gave it away as part of a contest? Jealous.
That's all! Now I'm going back to my cup of Twinings and more work.

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