India’s Darjeeling tea is the world’s most expensive, netting a record $1,850 for a kilo back in 2014. It was also the first product India bestowed with its special Geographical Indications of Goods label. For the last 150 years, people have only been able to get their hands on these prized tea leaves through in-person auctions. That’s changing–Darjeeling tea leaves are going digital.
Tea auctions are a long-standing tradition, where buyers go to get their hands on anything from the basics to highly-prized, small-batch leaves. Back in November 2008, India started allowing e-auctions of tea, but Darjeeling leaves never made the leap from their manual auctions in seven cities across the nation, including Kolkata, Siliguri, Guwahat, Jalpaiguri, Coonoor, Cochin, and Coimbatore, reported Quartz.
Sellers and Indian officials hope that by bringing Darjeeling tea into the e-auctions, the leaves will have “better price recovery,” netting higher amounts since more people will have access to the bidding wars. Though, don’t expect to be able to hop onto and place your own bid. The system is still only available to registered buyers and sellers through the seven auction centers.
Darjeeling tea usually goes for between $8 to $9 a kilo, but prices can soar for certain valuable harvests. The first flush, the earliest picking of the brand new two leaves and a bud in the spring, is especially valuable since the leaves offer a more light, floral taste. Tea connoisseurs often consider the first Darjeeling harvest the “Champagne” of teas.