Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: How much is all the tea in China?

December 8, 2014

Imperial Tea Gift Set | UncommonGoods

“Not for all the tea in China!” It’s an oldie but a goodie, but how old is it, and just how much in goods does it represent? The colorful metaphor for “never ever” hails from the late 19th or early 20th century. The earliest reference may lie in J. J. Mann’s 1914 travelogue Round the World in a Motor Car, though the book may be referencing an earlier colloquialism. In any case, understanding the phrase requires being steeped in a modicum of geography and global economics. Simply put, China is a big country that produces a lot of tea, so all of that production would equal a small fortune. To turn down such a slice of the Chinese GDP underscores the magnitude of the rejection. But have you ever wondered how much we’re talking dollar-wise? China’s total tea production in 2013 was worth roughly 17.5 billion dollars. That’s billion with a B. Still sure you want to turn that down? Maybe you should consult the tea leaves.

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  • Reply Dave March 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    What would be the volume of that tea? (Not as made into tea, of course. Perhaps loose leaf, tightly packed.)

    • Reply EJF March 28, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Dave –

      Thanks for your question! Chinese tea production for 2013 was roughly 2,000 metric tons, or 70.5 MILLION ounces. Don’t know how many cups that is…we suppose it depends on how strong you like it.

      Eric / The Goods blog team

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