Spanish Teardrop Peas: Here's Why It's So Expensive

Originating from Spain's Basque Country, the Teardrop Pea is not only celebrated for its unique flavor but also its caviar-like bursting texture upon tasting, a culmination of meticulous cultivation that justifies its premium price.

Spanish Teardrop Peas: Here's Why It's So Expensive
Tear Peas by Monika Grabkowska / Unsplash

This pea holds significant culinary worth, but its cultivation and preparation are labor-intensive.

Early morning harvests ensure moisture retention and take advantage of the pod's tenderness achieved overnight. After harvesting, immediate storage and efficient shelling are crucial.

Amassing sufficient peas for a kilo is a Herculean task, and this effort mirrors its price tag.

At a staggering $500 per kilogram, the Spanish Tear Pea, or “guisante lágrima,” ranks among the most expensive edible greens in the gourmet world.

What is the Teardrop Pea?

The Teardrop pea, also referred to as 'guisante lágrima' or 'Green Caviar', is a petite, grain-like vegetable distinguished by its elegant teardrop shape and vibrant hue.

Unlike its common garden green peas, it's celebrated for its delicate texture and the meticulous care it requires during cultivation.

History and Origin of Guisante Lágrima

The Teardrop pea, known as "guisante lágrima", has origins shrouded in tales and history. Its roots trace back to the Mediterranean, possibly from ancient times.

Some suggest its early cultivation began in Versailles, France, before it journeyed to Spain's Biarritz coast.

However, its true heartland is the Spain's Basque Country, particularly in the coastal town of Getaria. Over time, it expanded to regions like Andalusia and Catalonia.

Esteemed in Basque Michelin-starred eateries, this pea is a symbol of culinary luxury.

Through all its storied past, the Basque Country remains its most iconic home

Why is Green Caviar So Expensive?

Several factors contribute to the high price tag of the Teardrop pea:

Limited Coastal Cultivation

The pea's distinct flavor is profoundly influenced by its growth environment. In Spain's Basque region, the maritime essence imparts a unique salinity to both the air and the soil, distinguishing local produce.

This sea-influenced environment enhances everything from the region's iconic txakoli wine to its diverse produce.

This coastal cultivation imbues the pea with a more robust flavor profile than its inland counterparts, like those from Navarra.

With a fine balance of herbal and saline notes, these peas, when mature, present a sweet taste, encapsulating moisture within. Their subtle salinity mirrors the character found in txakoli wine.

Labor-Intensive Harvesting

Harvesting these peas contrasts sharply with the mechanized methods typical of industrial pea farming.

Harvested prematurely, these peas have a fragile, teardrop form upon shelling, demanding meticulous effort. Astonishingly, around twenty pounds of pods are needed to yield just one pound of the de-shelled peas.

This intensive process partly justifies their soaring price tag, touching $500 per kilo in the season. It's no wonder that eateries and media outlets have affectionately dubbed this once-simple vegetable as "green caviar."

Brief Harvest Period

Their harvest window is remarkably tight, spanning only from mid-March to the onset of June.

The tear pea ranks among the most perishable vegetables. Right after dawn harvests, which protect them from intense sunlight, its core value is freshness.

Freshness on the Clock: The Tear Pea's Race

The tear pea's allure lies in its fleeting harvest season, demanding labor, and the immediate journey from field to plate.

A mere two-day delay reduces its quality by 60%, distinguishing it from durable gourmet products like truffles.

Its sugar quickly turns to starch post-harvest, complicating even short-distance deliveries, such as to Madrid.

In the Basque Country, this pea's prominence has motivated Catalan growers to craft their own version, mirroring the original's flavor and texture.

High Demand

Gaining rapid acclaim in gourmet circles, the Teardrop pea is now a favorite among elite chefs and culinary aficionados.

Its unique flavor has been spotlighted by food influencers and luxury publications. With global diners seeking rare ingredients, demand for this 'green caviar' has surged.

Yet, its short harvest and intricate collection mean supply struggles to keep up, solidifying its luxury status and high price point.

Flavor Profile of Tear Pea

The pea's flavor is an exquisite blend of subtle herbal undertones and a pronounced sweet-savory touch.

When tasted, their sweetness erupts, evoking sensations of a land-derived caviar. Spanish culinary experts have creatively incorporated them into everything from ice creams to seafood dishes.

However, the shared wisdom remains: to truly unlock the depth of this green gem's flavor, its preparation must be swift, mere moments on the heat to preserve its unmatched essence.

Teardrop Pea in Culinary Arts

Raw and Simple: Owing to their delicate texture and burst of fresh flavor, Teardrop peas are often served raw. A simple drizzle of quality olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and perhaps a touch of lemon zest can elevate their natural taste.

Paired with Seafood: The subtle salinity of the Teardrop pea makes it a perfect accompaniment for seafood dishes. They can be paired with seared scallops, grilled prawns, or even a rich lobster bisque.

Garnish for Cold Soups: Their vibrant color and unique shape make them an ideal garnish for cold summer soups, such as gazpacho or a cucumber-dill soup.

Salads: Teardrop peas can be added to salads, complementing ingredients like fresh herbs, baby greens, radishes, and soft cheeses.

Tear Pea vs. Garden Pea

The Spanish Teardrop Pea differs markedly from the more familiar Garden Pea. Hailing from Spain's Basque Country, the Teardrop pea, with its meticulous cultivation, boasts a unique flavor and delicate teardrop shape.

This contrasts with the round-shaped, globally cultivated garden pea. On the palate, the Teardrop pea surprises with a sweet, slightly salty burst, earning it the 'earth-born caviar' moniker, while the garden pea offers a gentle, starchy taste.

In the culinary world, the Teardrop pea is a luxury, celebrated in fine dining, whereas the adaptable garden pea appears in varied dishes.

Notably, the Teardrop pea's premium stems from its brief shelf life and intensive farming, while the ubiquitous garden pea is more budget-friendly.

Interesting Facts

  1. Royal Delight: Historical records indicate that Teardrop peas were often served at the royal courts of Europe, symbolizing the epitome of fine dining.
  2. Green Caviar: Due to their rarity and the price they command, Teardrop peas are often referred to as the "green caviar" of the vegetable world.
  3. Gourmet's Pride: Teardrop peas are often the centerpiece in gourmet dishes, showcasing the chef's commitment to using only the finest ingredients.
  4. Health Benefits: Despite their luxurious reputation, Teardrop peas are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them as nutritious as they are delicious.


The teardrop pea epitomizes the extent to which culinary enthusiasts seek the world's most exquisite ingredients.

This vegetable marvel transcends being merely a dish—it represents an immersive experience, a rich history, and a tale awaiting narration.

To truly appreciate its unmatched variant and freshness, a journey to Spain is essential, especially given the pea's time-sensitive nature.