A modern day tea party may be brewing in Israel following a report that the country’s largest tea company, which has an 80 percent monopoly in that country, has been hiking costs to its fellow countrymen. The Wissotzky Tea company, which claims to have been founded in Russia in 1849 and is now Israel’s largest exporter of tea, is charging up to four times as much for green tea in Israel as it does in Europe and the U.S., according to Israel National News. Black and herbal tea prices are also said to be much higher in Israel than elsewhere.
The company blames the higher prices on a 16 percent tax from Israel which isn’t in other countries. But clearly 16 percent does not equal 300 percent. Consumer activist Shmuel Birnbaum is urging people to buy loose tea from spice stores and outdoor markets rather than getting gouged by Wissotzky.
The news invites an obvious comparison with the Boston Tea Party, in which early colonists in America were being forced to pay a lot more for tea from Britain, and in response, broke into British cargo ships, threw a bunch of crates of imported tea into the harbor, and bravely blamed the whole thing on native Americans. Except in the case of Israel, it’s not an outside country that’s overcharging them, but a local company. That’s capitalism.