China Throws $13K Tea Parties

P uer variety gains wine-like following
By Emily Roysdon,  Newser User
Posted Oct 7, 2007 4:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – China's latest investment fad trades paper for tea leaves, the Wall Street Journal reports. A type of tea pressed into discs, puer (pronounced "poo-ahr") was once the domain of collectors. But an excess of cash and dearth of investment outlets has made the tea a hot asset. Like wine, puer is judged by vintage, and 150-year-old cakes can fetch $13,000.

Once a gift for emperors, puer was relatively unknown in mainland China until a recent media blitz echoing ancient trading caravans. The mad tea party may be quieting, though—new cakes cost $16, down from a $35 high. That hasn't stopped counterfeiters from making knockoffs of popular labels, prompting one company to employ money-printing technology to make wrappers hard to duplicate.