Coffee, Tea or Me: Tea Investments

Posted by Kris | Sunday, October 25, 2009 | 0 comments »

Pu-er in Disc Form

Drinking tea is a centuries old Chinese tradition. But unfortunately, it is not something very popular among the younger generations in Malaysia. Most youth still prefer going to Starbucks or coffee bean to take a sip of coffee because it is considered hip/cool or exclusive since you are paying RM10++ a cup. Drinking coffee is considered a classy thing due to the heavy marketing by these franchises.

While, drinking tea is considered old fashion , only uncle and aunties do it, usually in a old kopitiam. Plus, there exists a psychological barrier to most virgin tea drinkers, that traditional famous tea such as Pu-er & Tikwan Yin are bitter by nature. That is what I thought the first time my friend suggested me to drink tea.

After drinking both tea, I found that authentic tea leaves from both kind is aromatic and not bitter at all. It is actually quite nice to drink. Both tea are long noted for health enhancing attributes. Pu-er is reputed to be able to reduce cholesterol levels in the your blood stream.Pu-er tea is widely sold as a weight loss tea or used as a main ingredient in such commercially prepared tea mixtures. Tikwan Yin tea has somehow similar attribute. Google for more info.

I am not sure whether after drinking tea has any good effects on me yet. The effects may differ from one person to another as with any "healthy supplement". Of course drinking tea cannot be considered a supplement, it is just a drink. Worst come to worst, it is just like drinking water with a few leaves soaked in it. I will let the readers know when i consistently drink it for a few months.

Here is the interesting part. Ever wonder that tea itself can be made into a investment?? I remember during the height of the bull market 2006, a company came out with a mutual/closed fund that invests in Pu-Er tea!! That right, Pu-Er can be expensive that property and gold itself.

There was a tea bubble "brewing" in China. Pu-Er gets more expensive the longer it is kept, something similar to decade old wines. Imagine a Pu-Er disc that is only S$6 being sold for S$80 , six years later. That's almost a 12 fold profit!!

See the news archive at TheStar below.

Like all bubble mania such as the tulip craze in Holland, where tulip bulb was insanely priced and at one time worth more than the value of gold itself. The Pu-Er tea bubble burst with the current economic crisis as cash liquidity in the market dries out. See the news article below.


Only a year and a half ago, pu'er tea from Yunnan was one of the hottest and most surprising investments in China, with certain types of the typically fermented tea selling for more than their weight in gold.

Today, the pu'er tea market has lost 85 percent of its value in an 18-month downward spiral that surpasses the 70 percent drop in value of the Shanghai stock market over the last 14 months, according to a Reuters report.

Pu'er first gained the attention of Chinese investors in 2003 as urban Chinese experienced growth in disposable income but had few investment opportunities outside of real estate and the young stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The tea, which only grows in southern Yunnan, grew in value around 30 percent annually, with its value jumping 50 percent in 2006.

Pu'er was once considered a 'tribute tea' fit only for the emperor's court, but as its value rose in recent years, product quality suffered as farms did everything they could to ramp up output. In addition to increased usage of pesticides, some farms cut their higher-grade pu'er with inferior product and others went as far as counterfeiting the tea.

These production issues and a surge of speculatory investors who did not understand pu'er are the main factors which have led to the tea's substantial drop in value.

There is a bright lining to the gray cloud hanging over the pu'er market these days, as many of the speculative investors and producers of inferior pu'er have been weeded out of the market, which analysts say is resulting in a rise in quality of pu'er – at least until the next time investors start throwing their money at the market.

Anyway, before you readers out there rushing to invest in Pu-Er, make sure you do your own homework before plunging it as there are a few factors to consider. As for me, it is time for me to have a sip of Pu-Er tea in the afternoon. Ciao!!