How to Calculate the Real Price of Your Tea

So often we here how expensive fine teas are. This is equally often said by folks who are sipping on that ultra hot cuppa $5 coffee-ish substance from the mega chain store coffee shop. Yet, grand cru (great growth) teas are far more likely to break down to a much lower cost per cup than even the “bargain” bagged teas from the local grocery store. The key is how these teas are infused. Multiple steeps is the big factor here. The formula is pretty straightforward, as shown below, and maybe our way of calculating is a little more involved than the way others do it, but we wanted to take a number of things into account and even things out between the size of a typical steeping of these teas versus a typical cup of other teas. We’ve also put together a few samples for you of teas we carry, just to give you an idea of the difference.

The Formula

Many fine teas are sold by the gram versus ounces or pounds. So we calculated using grams and then did a column that gives you the cost if you had an 8-ounce cup of that fine tea (it is usually infused in smaller amounts).

  1. Price of unit (cake, etc.) divided by Grams per unit = Price per gram
  2. Ounces of water used per infusion times number of infusions per session = Total ounces of liquid tea
  3. Grams per unit (cake, etc.) divided by Grams of dry tea used per infusion session = total infusion sessions possible from unit of tea
  4. Price of unit divided by Number of sessions = Cost per session
  5. Cost per session divided by Total ounces = Cost per 8 oz. cup
  6. Other Costs (guesstimated 50 cents per cup for water, heat source such as electricity, gas, charcoal, plus labor, clean-up, etc.)
  7. Cost per 8 oz. cup + Other Costs = Total Cup Cost

A lot of folks, when doing cost comparisons, leave out #6, but you need to include something here since you are incurring those costs one way or another. For example, you may need to buy bottled water or use a water filter.

The Calculations

We pulled quite a few teas to give a good cross section. Row W is the most expensive tea and therefore has the highest per 8-ounce cup cost ($2.30). In some cases we pulled teas such as row AH that are sold in different size pouches to show how the per cup cost compares. In Row U, we compare three different grades of a Dancong oolong – the per cup cost is so little that you might as well go for the highest grade.

Click on image to enlarge

Compared to Popular Bagged Teas

We avoided the U.S. brands and compared with some of the top UK brands. They range from 52 to 60 cents per cup. As you can see on the chart above, a number of the fine teas come out to about the same cost. It would seem that those fine teas aren’t such an extravagance after all. Which leads to the question of why people settle for blended stuff in teabags. We like to think it’s just because they don’t know this. Hopefully, now they do.

Click on image to enlarge

We also realize that the teabags are presented as a time saver, but with some practice, you can steep up loose leaf tea just as quickly. And you can get a far superior cup of tea than at those coffee shops, not to mention saving a ton of money.

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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