I know I said that studies should be taken with caution but I found an interesting one and I wanted to share its conclusions with you.
This study shows that price tag can change the way people experience wine.
If you want, you can read it here or you can read my summary (with some short cuts as I am no neural sciences expert).
20 students (among them 11 males) who said they liked and occasionally drank red wine were asked to perform a test to “study the effect of sampling time on flavor” while they were performing another test.
Each one was told they would be tasting 5 different Cabernet Sauvignons, identified by price and put in a random order but there were only 3 different wines.
One of them was given its normal price tag, another its normal price and a lower one, and the last one its normal price and a higher one.
The final results were that the students could taste 5 different wines and that the more expensive ones tasted better.
I will spare you all the neural things but the obvious thing is that more research has to be done to see if experts will replicate these first results.
Let’s take a step back and think about the results and how they could be used for tea.
It would mean that for specific origins and flushes; the higher the price, the higher the pleasure to drink it.
I guess we won’t have any answer here unless someone made blind tastes with other people.
If you think tea is a normal product (ie with price defined by a cost-based approach), this is disturbing. However, if we think that some teas (not all of them) could in a way be considered luxury goods, then the picture changes and they partly become Veblen goods, goods whose demand is proportional to their price.
I said partly because only a few people will ever pay millions of Euros for some tea
What teas could fit into this pattern? My guess is that teas with a certain prestige around their name, teas with limited harvest each year could perfectly fit the bill.
This does not mean that we might pay too much each and every tea but that the high price of some teas will create the perfect conditions for our mind to believe we are drinking an awesome tea.
Sometimes our mind doesn’t mind playing a little fool trick on us but remember it is the one saying “Trust in me…”
To think of a few examples of tea that would fit into this category:
Dragonwell (to an extent)
There are numerous studies linking price to overall enjoyment, especially concerning restaurants and packaged foods/beverages. This is all based off of an average consumer.
When put to the test without price and with professionals, though, there is a stark difference. For example: when tea professionals examine a commercial grade Argentine tea, their expectations are usually lower than when examining a tea of the same grade from, say, Ceylon. In reality, there are amazing teas coming from both regions on a commercial scale.
That’s why at the North American Tea Championship last year, the top winning consumer iced tea blends consisted of over 50% Argentine product. If the products had the label and price, this may have skewed the perceptions of the judges.
All very interesting stuff!
Thanks for the hint to more studies on this topic.
I know that a brand and price can influence the way people and profesionnals think about a product but I had never given a thought to the impact on taste.
I will need to dig this topic a little more.
I shall put our prices up immediately.
Did you make blind tests?
Simple rule: if you put more effort in it it becomes better. Think of something you make. The more effort you put into it to get it right the better it becomes.
If we assumes a price proportional to this effort this means the better the product.
Now we know that mood can influence the tea experience don’t we? So a simple trick of the mind makes more expensive tea experienced as tastier. (if there are no counter forces like buying-guilt)
Now that does make sense until someone abuses this psychological trick. I.e. adds a higher price tag. The trick might still work thanks to our perfect imperfect brain.
Now the question is is what I wrote correct or just perceived as such. Does our biology/psychology follow this simple rule that can so easily be abused?
@bram except that I wrote previously that prices are not always related to quality but also to expenses from the different shops.
But I think you are right, we can easily be fooled.