Sotheby’s, the venerable auction house, has sold wine, whisky and even Chinese moutai, but not tea, that Asian staple beverage, until now.
The company’s Hong Kong office said on Wednesday it would stage its first tea auction online from December 8-16, offering antique and vintage tea samples.
The auctioneers said premium pu erh from China has become highly sought after. The auction will feature century-old antique “Hao Ji Cha” tea as well as “Yin Ji” teacakes from the 1950s and “Qizi bingcha” teacakes from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The showcase item is a century-old teacake from “Chen Yun Hao”, which was a prestigious tea house in the early 1900s. The lot’s value is estimated at HK$900,000–1.2 million ($115,500-154,000).
“The introduction of tea at our global auctions comes as a natural progression for our business,” Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine, said.
“Today’s collectors continue to expand their horizons and we expect demand for the rarest teas to follow that for wines, whiskies and moutai.”
• George Russell