Is high quality loose leaf tea expensive?

Loose leaf tea
Is high quality tea expensive? Photo by romainguy.

A year and a half ago, I thought spending $10 on a 100 gram packet of loose leaf tea was exorbitant. These days, I regularly come out of a tea shop having spent between $50 and $100. And I’m not coming away with that much tea either — sometimes I can spend $50 just on 150 grams of tea.

If you’re used to supermarket tea, you’ll no doubt balk at the expense. And by all means, if you don’t place a high premium on quality in your tea, stick with your supermarket stocks.

But the thing is, $50 for 150 grams of tea isn’t that expensive. It’s the equivalent of buying two pretty good bottles of wine — which will buy you about 12 glasses of wine. 150 grams of tea, even if it’s only infused once, will get you at least 50 cups of tea. If you’re talking about a high quality oolong tea, you should be able to get at least 4 or 5 cups from each batch of leaves, which means you could get as much as 250 cups from that batch of tea. Suddenly, we’re talking about a 20 cent cup of tea.

Last time I checked, you could buy a 10-pack box of Twinings teabags at the supermarket for a bit over $2 — so right there you’re paying the same amount for a stale Twinings teabag as you would for some high quality oolong tea!

Even the Hawaiian oolong that I reviewed last week, which sells for $20 per 10 grams, didn’t seem quite as expensive after I used about 3 grams of leaves and got 10 infusions (and potentially could have got more).

What do you think? Is high quality loose leaf tea expensive?


  • 1

    Hmm, I was thinking about this the other day when I totaled up how much I have recently spent on tea (I shan’t confess how much! In case my husband finds out!!) … Tea can be expensive but it can also be good value. I usually try and get at least two infusions out of each pot of tea I brew, and as you point out depending on the kind of tea, you can sometimes get a lot more. Certainly though when you compare the cost of buying and steeping your own tea at home, as opposed to paying $3 or $4 for a single pot when you’re out (and often that pot contains a single stale Twinings teabag!!)…SO much cheaper, even if the tea is objectively expensive!

  • 2

    I think it’s worth it for quality and therefore flavour and health benefits.

    So true Veri-tea! Funny story, Eric and I went to a restaurant this one time and on the menu they had written “Loose leaf tea” which he was very excited about. But alas when the tea arrived out came a pot with a Twinings tea bag in it! We felt very ripped off and Eric still cannot get over it.

  • 3

    I find myself cringing at paying a lot for a black tea as I find that I don’t care to resteep it. However all bets are off when you are talking a good oolong.

  • 4

    I think the more one knows about tea, the better price he will pay for it. It is always true to me when I try to purchase teas in tea shops.

  • 5

    When you break down the expense like you did, the tea does not appear to be expensive. You are buying a quality product.

  • 6

    thats right you have to pay for quality product but 50$ for 150 gram is too high

  • 7
  • 8

    I think the more one knows about tea, the better price he will pay for it. It is always true to me when I try to purchase teas in tea shops.

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