VeryPisces said

What is a "good price" for loose tea? I'm confused!

How is a tea newbie to know if a tea is considered expensive? I don’t want to be “taken” by sellers with exorbitant prices, yet I don’t want to base my purchases on cheap prices and end up with low-quality tea. What is considered overpriced? What is considered an acceptable range to spend on a couple of ounces of tea? I know there is likely no straightforward answer, but I hope to learning something to help me with my purchase decisions.

12 Replies

I’m a tea newbie as well, and was sort of indoctrinated via Teavana. It’s somewhat funny, my fiance and I are looking at a lot of the things on Steepster, and some of the other tea selling websites we find online… and we have a baseline in our heads of what things cost at Teavana. So far, we keep finding things and going “Hey, that’s way cheaper than Teavana!”. At some point in the near future, we have to alter our baseline, and realize that Teavana is the high end, not the normal :P

That being said…

I’m finding that for your standard black or flavored black teas, a ‘decent’ price is looking to be between $2/oz and $3/oz. Marketspice, whose orange-spice tea is way high up there on my list, runs a lot of teas in the sub $2/oz range that I am finding myself very happy with.

When you start getting into some of the more elegant teas, the price can climb pretty quickly.

There’s a guy on here named SimpliciTea who does some marvelous reviews, including the cost and value of the teas he’s reviewing. Browse through some of his tasting notes, and it will give you an idea of what some of the fancier teas can/should cost. There are probably others who have similar methods to their ratings… but I haven’t stumbled across them yet :)

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Azzrian said

Its funny I was thinking about it in the same terms as Dylan. I too am pretty new to loose teas. I started with my first purchase from The London Tea Room at their location however they do sell online as well. Their teas run anywhere between 6.00 to 15.00 per 2 ounces! So when I saw all the choices online for far far less I was stoked! I have found however some higher priced teas are not all that great while some are absolutely worth it and some low priced teas are simply amazing and some are just crud. Price does not always equate to value or quality unfortunately.
While I would love to find ONE online vendor who has all my favorites there is far too many selections out there that I would hate to pass up.
I just try to note my absolute favorites – tea logging of course helps a ton and I love that I can add things to my shopping list. I am trying to be more and more selective about what I add to it as I become more experienced.
I have paid a pretty penny for a few that I have found really disappointing but if I don’t try I won’t ever know.
I love variety so I can’t really see myself becoming OVERLY loyal to one vendor but I will still hope to find one day with more time involved that my shopping cart has mostly tea from one or two sources in the long run. That is my hope anyway.

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I think determining a good price for tea varies depending on your individual preferences. Personally, I would pay more for a good black tea than a green because I’m not as fond of green. I would suggest that you check out Upton Tea – they have great prices and offer cheap samples on almost all of their teas. This may give you a chance to narrow down your specific preferences so that you can make a more informed decision about prices on your favorite types of tea.

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cteresa said

Good tea does not have necessarily have to be very expensive. But beware gimmicky-sellers, they will put a premium on any crap. But I keep getting surprised by how cheap some great, remarkable tea can be. Just for fun, here goes, from my favorite sellers (Enablers!), Mariage Fréres (who take tea very seriously and are a very serious company indeed), their teas ordered by increasing price

they sell tea starting at 3/4 euros per 100 grams, which would put it at maybe 2 dollars per ounce? And I trust them enough that it must be good, interesting tea, if they keep it on stock!

Mind you, the loose tea they sell goes up towards 120 euros per 100 grams for a particular blend. But that does not mean the 4/5 euros teas are necessarily bad, just different and less rare.

cteresa said

the 120 € tea, harvested at dawn and wrapped in silk cloth. Bitch, please!

And just to add, not to say they can are not gimmicky, some of the things they sell are gimmicky or oriented for gifts, limited edition tins and all. But I just used them as an example as even the most high-end of retailers can sell not-so expensive tea. If the so called high end retailer does not have some teas in this price range, it means they take a lot of liberties with their markups!

Oh man, I had to go look at that wrapped in silk thing. That was hilarious.

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This is indeed a confusing question. There are so many variables to what makes a tea worth its price. And even the idea of a good price range depends on the person.
There are definitely places you can pay a lot for tea that you can find elsewhere for much less and maybe even better quality. Teavana comes to mind. Then there are places where the prices are a bit above average but you’ll find unique flavors and above average quality. Like David’s Tea. And then, there are places where you’ll find good quality for little money but fewer unique items. Like Upton Tea. Then there are stores that specialize in a type or region of tea and the prices can be crazy high or crazy low, but often, the stuff is excellent quality. I think Den’s Teas prices are a bit high, but the stuff is amazing and sometimes unique. Teavivre is super affordable and the quality is awesome. Then there’s Harney’s which I find pricy but others do not. This is probably because they don’t have much that appeals to me while others find many of their blends addictive. They have quality and staple flavors, but I wouldn’t say much of their stock is super creative or unique. It all depends on your standards!

So many variables! Just sample tons of teas until you figure out what you’re willing to pay for what quality and rarity. I’m willing to pay a lot more for a quality Dancong since I know how good it can be and how rare it is, but I’m not willing to pay a lot for a strawberry green tea when there are so many options, many of them enjoyable regardless of price. Speaking of strawberry green tea, Lupicia is awesome for that! Strawberry Vanilla Green…so tasty.

It might be more straight forward to tell us what you like and ask for suggestions in an affordable price range. :)

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brandy3392 said

You may want to try some teas from Adagio. Their prices seem decent, the selection and quality is pretty good, and they have sample sizes of everything. As far as what is a good price for tea, it depends a lot on what you are looking for. I’ve personally decided that I won’t spend more than $5 an ounce on any tea. Normally I don’t purchase more than a couple of ounces, so I’m not very concerned if I got a good value (as long as it is under $5). In my opinion, the best thing for a newbie to do is just set a budget and try as many different teas as possible. Once you figure out what you like, it will be much easier to shop around and find the types of teas you enjoy at a decent price. Also, be sure to check out all of the reviews here on Steepster. If it wasn’t for all those reviews, I probably would have wasted a lot of money on teas I wouldn’t enjoy.

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kOmpir said

I usually measure by cuppa. If particular tea can be brewed more than once, let’s say three times, than $30 for 100 gr of good Jin Jun Mei isn’t expensive and I picture it as $10 for 100 gr.
I also like to have a really nice tea or two in my stash for special occasions, so I don’t mind paying more for those scarce moments.

In the end it all comes down to your tea budget – how much do you want to spend for certain time period. For me it’s about $30 per month at the moment.

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For me… it’s a good price if I enjoy the tea. If I don’t enjoy the tea, no matter how inexpensive the tea was, it was a rip-off. If I thoroughly enjoy the tea, I’m going to be willing to shell out some extra cash for that enjoyment.

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elemental said

There is no simple answer to your question. There are many relatively rare and “expensive” teas available — all of which are worth the price, if you enjoy them. Having said that, there are also many reasonably priced teas that are equally enjoyable.

I think your question is more about being “taken” by someone selling so-so tea at premium prices. The answer to that is to deal with a reputable retailer — one who goes beyond a 10-word generic description and tells you as much about the tea as possible. For a reputable business, selling poor quality tea — at any price — is stupid. You have to build a business on return customers, and that means happy customers. Otherwise, you might just as well bag it up and sell it on eBay.

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Good question. One I have spent considerable time looking into.

In the numerous on-line tea retailers that I have purchased from over the last year or so, only one (a seller on E-Bay) sold me something that was not as advertized (I just checked, they were called ‘teastyles2010’ and they are no longer a registered user on E-Bay). If you buy from a relatively known company (rather than taking a risk on an obscure tea retailer that you haven’t looked into, or on whom you can not find any independent source of information about), I don’t think you are going to be taken (still, I can understand that fear myself). Rather, the struggle, for me at least, has been in finding out what value in a tea retailer; that takes time and effort to figure out. So, as others have posted, trying samples from a few known places may be the best place to start.

As far as prices go though, in my experience it’s hard to find any quality tea for less than $2 / oz. I’ve found most quality loose leaf Tea’s to run in the $2 – $10 / oz. price range. And fresh, high-quality Tea can cost anywhere up to $20/oz. and even much higher (the most I have ever seen was about $60 / oz. for a Korean green Tea, and my understanding is there are aged pu-erh Teas that can cost much more).

Whether it’s worth the price or not is ultimately up to you. Since it was mentioned by Dylan Oxford and Mercuryhime, in a way, using Teavana’s prices as a baseline for the most you can expect to pay may not be a bad idea, in that I judge many consider their Teas to be pretty pricy (myself included), and they have a broad selection of Teas. So if a comparable tea is more than what they charge, it may be more than what you can get it for elsewhere.

As Dylan Oxford also mentioned (thank you Dylan for your kind words) I usually make a point in my reviews of a Tea to compare it’s price with the prices of similar Teas (if I have come across them), and in my review of a tea retailer I usually mention my experience of the prices of their Teas relative to the Teas other tea retailers carry; I’m glad to hear that my efforts there seem to be helpful (at least to some)!

Here is a list of reviews of online tea retailers on Steepster

The reality is, you can find great deals, and you can overpay, but in general my experience has been you get what you pay for. Good luck!

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