How to Drink the World’s Healthiest Beverage for Pennies a Cup

Today, I have a great article from Mary Ann Rollano. Mary Ann is a tea connoisseur and founder of Life Is Better With Tea, a tea blog celebrating the joyous and healthy benefits of tea. I love tea (who doesn’t?) and it can be enjoyed at an affordable price. What’s not to love about that? Below is her article….

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 17, 2020

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Today, I have a great article from Mary Ann Rollano. Mary Ann is a tea connoisseur and founder of Life Is Better With Tea, a tea blog celebrating the joyous and healthy benefits of tea. I love tea (who doesn’t?) and it can be enjoyed at an affordable price. What’s not to love about that? Below is her article.

A lot of people think loose leaf tea is too expensive. Perhaps it’s because they see a tea connoisseur drinking a Japanese gyokuro green tea that costs $160/pound or a ceremonial grade matcha that costs $20/ounce. That sounds like a lot of money, but this is far from expensive.I began my journey into specialty tea a little over 10 years ago and soon began experiencing the benefits of enjoying tea while living a simpler life.

Running a popular tea blog and tea business, people always ask me, “How can I get into specialty tea without spending a lot of money?”

That’s when I realized people have a misconception about Specialty Tea. A lot of people think loose leaf tea is too expensive. Perhaps it’s because they see a tea connoisseur drinking a Japanese gyokuro green tea that costs $160/pound or a ceremonial grade matcha that costs $20/ounce. That sounds like a lot of money, but this is far from expensive.

The reality is, you use very little of that pound in one cup of tea. When you break this down, it only comes to 0.70 cents per serving. That is not a lot, especially when you compare it to some fancy $4.00 latte habits.

Multiply that by four times per day! The fancy latte will cost you $16 per day, because you know you’re not making that at home. And that gourmet specialty tea? If you brew it yourself, it will cost you $2.80 per day. And that’s if you drink the most expensive, highest quality teas.

What Does A Tea Habit Cost?

I took a look at pricing from the top five Best E-commerce Tea Websites and Best Tea Health Advocates. They are recognized by World Tea Expo’s ‘World Tea Awards’ that honor contributors to the Specialty Tea industry.

Here’s a sampling of costs from Harney & Sons, American Tea Room, David’s Tea, Adagio, The Tea Spot and Camellia Sinensis. I also sourced pricing examples from the book Cancer Hates Tea (recognized as one of five Best Tea Health Publications).

  • Aged Pu-erh Tea                                             $57/pound or $0.25/serving
  • Assam Black Tea                                            $34/pound or $0.10/serving
  • Black Dragon Pearl                                        $64/pound or $0.32/serving
  • Black Organic Lapsang Souchong                 $34/pound or $0.15/serving
  • Ceremonial Grade Matcha                             $20/ounce or $0.70/serving
  • Gourmet Ginger Peach Tea                            $35/pound or $0.15/serving
  • Gunpowder Green Tea                                   $23/pound or $0.10/serving
  • Gyokuro Green Tea                                        $160/pound or $0.70/serving
  • Matcha Green Tea                                          $66/half pound or $0.30/serving
  • Milk Oolong Tea                                            $192/pound or $0.94/serving
  • Organic Breakfast Tea                                    $24/pound or $0.14/serving
  • Organic Matcha Genmaicha                           $78.29/pound or $0.65/serving
  • Sencha Green Tea                                           $34/pound or $0.15/serving

Keep in mind these numbers are averages. It all depends on the type of tea and how much tea you are using per cup. In very general terms one teaspoon of loose leaf tea will brew a 6 to an 8-ounce cup. It varies with the type of tea and size of the tea leaf.

Some very high-end teas can be brewed more than once from the same tea leaves. But the point is, even the organic loose leaf teas are just pennies a cup.

A Healthy Cup of Tea is Worth the Price

Tea is trending among the health-conscious these days as it’s really quite affordable. At $30 per pound for a high-quality black tea, you are paying 15 cents per cup. Even the most luxurious and unusual teas rarely cost 70 cents per cup.

Consider this, a pound of traditional white tea that consists of only the buds of the tea plant may require 40,000 buds. Those buds are picked one at a time by hand. I’d say 70 cents per cup is a bargain.

“A glass of whiskey in Scotland in the thirties cost less than a cup of tea”, according to the late Catherine Helen Spence, Scottish-born Australian author.

Times have certainly changed. Tea is now less expensive and much healthier than whiskey.

For an average cost of $30 per month, you can get an amazingly healthy variety of fine tea.

12 Money Saving Tips When Buying Premium Leaf Tea

  1. Try to buy as close to the source as possible. This is not always practical advice unless you live in a tea growing country.
  2. Brew tea multiple times. Some teas are better suited for this than others. Good quality tea makes this possible.
  3. When possible, try before you buy. Many tea retailers offer tasting samples or sample sizes when shopping online. This eliminates wasting money on tea you don’t like.
  4. Buy from reputable vendors. Quality tea is worth the price.
  5. The gong fu method of brewing provides the best way to get every last bit of value out of the tea you buy. This method essentially uses more tea and less water, allowing for multiple infusions. Western style brewing tends to waste tea. This method uses less tea and more water and only infuses the tea once.
  6. Know your ‘good enough’ point for a given tea. It’s that sweet spot where tea tastes great but isn’t crazy expensive.
  7. Seek out inexpensive loose tea at bulk stores, ethnic markets, herb suppliers and on the internet.
  8. Read reviews on the internet and check out the good values reviewed by various people. Find a vendor you trust and check out their everyday drinking type teas.
  9. Know what you’re looking for and how much it costs. If it’s too cheap to be real, it’s not real. If it’s marked up an extra 100%, you’re not the vendors target demographic. In other words, comparison shop.
  10. Decent mid-range tea isn’t expensive at all. If you’re new to tea don’t be in a hurry to drink versions that cost $20 for 2 ounces of tea. Mid-grade oolong is a good starting point.
  11. Loose leaf tea, in general, is the cheapest kind of tea.
  12. And finally – shop sober. Don’t internet binge shop after you’ve had a few drinks!

Now It’s Your Turn

Tea is often referred to as ‘one of the world’s most obtainable luxuries’. And it’s true, it is. The world of tea is quite diverse. But don’t let that overwhelm or confuse you. Start with the basics, trying out one or two new teas at a time. Stick with the low to mid-ranged priced teas until you develop your tea palate.

You don’t have to spend a lot on quality tea. You just need to know where to look. Adagio lists the price per cup for each tea. The Tea Spot has a very extensive loyalty program, giving redeemable points for shopping, social sharing, and reviews. The American Tea Room gives you 25% off if you shop from their app available for Android and Apple phones.

Go to each of these websites and write down exactly what you think you’d enjoy. Compare prices, order samples and you’re on your way to a healthy and inexpensive tea habit.

Talk about tea and share it with your friends. Tea is meant for companionship, sharing and connecting. Experiment a little and enjoy a pot of tea with friends!

Now I’d love to hear from you. What ways do you save on buying specialty tea? If you’d like to learn more about tea, sign up for my FREE Cheat Sheet on “How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea.”

What’s your favorite affordable drink?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I would never have thought you could get tea down to be that cheap per cup! Maybe I should take up the tea habit over my expensive coffee habit 🙂

    Question, how long does that tea last when you buy it in ounces or pounds? Can it sit there a few month before it goes bad or does it have to be regularly bought?

    1. Agreed on the price – didn’t realize it could be so low. I don’t drink coffee, but my wife does. And you’re right – coffee prices can be expensive from time to time.

      I only drink tea when I’ve been sick or have had a bad cough. Not certain on how long tea lasts, too.

  2. Paige @ Fixing My Finances

    I love tea but I always found myself settling for not so great quality tea bags because of how expensive it can be in little boutique stores (plus they always tell you that you need to use so much more tea per cup than you actually do). I am definitely going to check out some of the online stores you mentioned! Thank you!!

  3. I drink green tea several times per week. There are a lot of cheap versions of it out there. To see that you can pay cents per cup for good quality tea is amazing.

  4. In response to Barnabas – in general terms, loose leaf tea will keep for a year as long as you store it properly. It must be in a sealed tight container and not exposed to light. A tight seal is important because the tea will easily pick up the scent of its surroundings, this is what makes tea so easy to flavor. If exposed to light it will degrade in flavor and freshness. Really fresh green teas tend to degrade faster because they are not oxidized.

  5. Hi Mary Ann,

    I’ve always learned coming up as a child in Brooklyn that drinking certain types of tea was healthy and not only improved sleep patterns, but also increased quality of living. I drank tea back in the day but fell off the bandwagon and wondering what type of tea today I can drink that has a unique combination of herbs that’ll help me sleep good at night. It’s been more than 20 years possibly since I had a consistent track record of drinking tea for better health. I never thought about running a team blog but it sounds quite lucrative. How long have you been running your team blog for until you started seeing good business from it if I may ask?

    If there’s a certain type of tea that does a body good bats valued at over hundred dollars a pound, why not buy it if it benefits your overall health and longevity? And for tea retailers and resellers, selling certain types of teas can also mean “good money.” I always hear the good news about drinking green tea to stimulate your metabolism and encourage weight loss. And though green tea is very inexpensive nowadays, I still see financial opportunity in reselling it to a target audience through blogging and affiliate marketing. Long story short… You can pretty much sell tea or anything on the Internet and come off big time financially. Am I right I say? 🙂

    When it comes to stocking up any type of tea, I’m an advocate for purchasing tea in bulk and stocking it away to maintain good health in longevity. A good thing to know is there’s tea for all types of challenges, some ranging from overcoming sleep deprivation, tea for losing weight, tea for improving memory retention, tea for improving eyesight, tea for increasing natural libido, tea for regrowing hair, tea for shifter and thinning and improving nail growth, and tea for even bad breath. I don’t know of a TV that helps improve the storing of calcium in human bones but I’m confident there something like that out on the market.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking blog post on drinking tea for improved long-term human health. 🙂

  6. Agreed on Bubble Tea! It’s delicious. My wife and I lived in New York City for 8 years; there was a place called Hanco’s (in Brooklyn) that had some great Bubble Tea.

  7. James @ Penny Wise Dollar Wiser

    I’m a big green tea drinker and the good ones can get quite expensive.

    These are excellent tricks that I definitely will need to try out. Love getting quality and premium stuff for less money whenever possible.

  8. Charleen

    I cut out coffee and switched totally to Yerba Mate. It’s from S. American and isn’t tea but ground leaves from a tree there. It has plenty of caffeine and is full of minerals and all sorts of good stuff! The Yerba mate you buy in a can isn’t worth it though, you need to brew your own