Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?


Completely off the Topic of Tea

What is the change from inexpensive to expensive

<10 cents per gram
0
No votes
10-20 cents per gram
1
4%
21-30 cents per gram
2
7%
31-40 cents per gram
6
21%
41-50 cents per gram
3
11%
51-75 cents per gram
2
7%
76-100 cents per gram
1
4%
$1.01-1.50 per gram
1
4%
1.50-2 per gram
0
No votes
>$2 per gram?
0
No votes
Bonus >$2 per session
2
7%
Bonus >$4 per session
7
25%
Bonus >$6 per session
2
7%
Bonus >$8 per session
1
4%
Bonus >$12 per session
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 28

Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby AdamMY » Dec 11th, '10, 13:06

In yesterday Friday 12/10/2010's Teaday there was quite a bit of mention about expensive vs. inexpensive tea. I was just curious about what people considered as the cutoffs between these categories.

I personally like to rank tea based on its cost per session, as it is hard to keep track how many infusions I have each time I have a tea, as I sometimes truncate the last infusion or two, and price per gram while a decent indicator it is hard to keep track as different teas require different amounts of tea gram wise.

I rank my teas compared to what is available at coffee shops.

Inexpensive tea: A tea that I can enjoy a session for less than a cup of coffee, 0-$2.50.

Moderate priced tea: A tea that can be had for the price of specialty beverages at a coffee shop per session.

$2.50-6.50.

High priced tea/ Expensive tea is basically above that.

I will say I rarely have teas in the high price range, as even most of the aged puerh I have had still falls into the moderate priced category when viewed from a cost per session weight.
Last edited by AdamMY on Dec 11th, '10, 17:54, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby brose » Dec 11th, '10, 14:26

I don't really trust a cost per session indicator for myself. Sometimes I want a potent opaque colored tea and use maybe 2-3x the amount I would use when I want a subtle mild tea. The only feel I have for cost is based on the teas I frequent, cakes of pu and 25g or 50g bags of loose tea. Pu is probably the easiest measure for me, about $50 is average for me and $90+ is higher end for a standard size cake.
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby Chip » Dec 11th, '10, 15:31

This should be interesting as I expect quite varying responses.

I base cheap vs expensive on cost per gram. Nice thing about sencha, it is really quite inexpensive compared to some other teas. Since session sizes vary greatly for me, 1.5 - 7 ounces, hard to say session cost.

Not including matcha ...

Typical fare, mid range, this is where I am at 90% of the time. 20-40 cents per gram.

Low end, 12-19.9 cents per gram.

Expensive, anything over 40 cents per gram is going to slow my trigger release at the checkout. :mrgreen: I rarely go double that. And the nice thing about sencha, rarely feel the need to go higher.

Just got some Tsuru Jirushi Gyokuro and that is around 83 cents per gram (before shipping). I cannot remember ever going much higher tbh. But I expect to this Winter with some gyokuro!!! This may be the Winter of Gyokuro!!!!!
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby AdamMY » Dec 11th, '10, 15:46

Chip wrote:This should be interesting as I expect quite varying responses.

I base cheap vs expensive on cost per gram.



While I understand the standardized cost per gram of tea, and for quick estimates as to what teas fall into which category in my first post, I assumed roughly 10 grams per session, which depending on the tea is anywhere from a lot over to a little under the amount of tea actually used. This of course depends on what teaware I am using and how much tea I am making.

But I felt like a cost per session helps illuminate how even teas that are say 40 cents per gram can be viewed as still relatively inexpensive, if you are only using roughly 5 grams in a standard session. And as most people are at least familiar with coffee house prices, the comparison I thought was nice. As I often get more liquid, and more enjoyment from a tea that falls into the inexpensive category than a cup of coffee.
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby Chip » Dec 11th, '10, 15:54

Most sessions are therefore in the $1.50 - 2 range, pretty inexpensive. And as the cost per gram goes up, the steep size goes down ... There is that inverse relationship. Partly to reduce session cost, partly to make a more concentrated steep, partly to attune focus on the indulgence.

The Tsuru session today had a cost of $4-5 ... for a 2.5 ounce steep.

EDIT: Adam, perhaps adding a poll???
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby nickE » Dec 11th, '10, 17:24

This can vary pretty wildly for me. Most Puerh I drink is extremely cheap on a price per gram basis; this is one of the (many) reasons why I enjoy it.

For young Puerh, 12 cents per gram is where it needs to be good for me to buy it. This is about $40 for a 357g cake. Anything below that and I won't hesitate on at least trying it.

With Sencha, I'm probably similar to Chip although I do not buy much of it.

Oolong is the most expensive tea I drink. I personally believe that most Oolongs (more true with higher quality stuff) are extremely overpriced, especially in the west. It is not difficult for a decent Oolong to cost more than 50 cents per gram.

Regarding price per session, I actually tend to use a similar amount of leaf no matter what tea it is. Anything from 4g to 8g is the norm for me; there are exceptions of course, but not really worth mentioning.

The amount of tea per session does have an impact on the perceived priced of a tea. With an aged Puerh, I generally use 8g; with an Oolong, I use 4-5g. This effectively cuts the price of an Oolong session in half (comparatively).

Because of all this, I have different hurdles for what expensive means to me.
    Young Puerh: .12/g+
    Aged Puerh: .16/g+
    Sencha: .30/g+
    Oolong: .40/g+
It's also important to note that samples should not be considered in this discussion. I have no problem paying $2/g for a sample, as long as it is less than 25g at a time.

This is definitely an interesting topic. :)
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby Chip » Dec 11th, '10, 17:43

Spock wrote:... fascinating topic, Adam should add a poll! ...
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby entropyembrace » Dec 11th, '10, 18:01

For me I consider it expensive when it gets over .30 per g or over $3 per session.

it´s fairly consistent over most tea types...and is I suppose fairly arbitrary though when I start spending more than that I find myself not getting enough tea to keep up with my consumption given my tea budget...
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby mbanu » Dec 11th, '10, 21:49

For teas from India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya, auction prices are often publicly available going back several years for various estates. If you add a fair mark-up to these to cover the cost of packaging and importing, you could probably come up with a baseline price for tea in various grades and forms from the various areas. If they are lower than the baseline for their group, they are inexpensive, if they are higher than the baseline they are expensive .

Tea from areas without an auction system in place are a bit trickier to gauge... in those cases, one has to go by personal assessment. What plucking standard was used for the tea? Increased plucking standards (2 leaves and a bud, 1 leaf and a bud, all buds, etc.) lower the yield which increases the price. Also, high plucking standards can't be mechanized very well, which also increases the price. Were the leaves hand-rolled or were they rolled by machine? Hand-rolling increases the price. Are the leaves whole, or are they in brokens, fannings, or dust? Whole leaf teas seem to be more expensive to produce, and more care needs to be taken in their handling. Are the teas organic? Organic cultivation tends to reduce yields, so the overall cost will increase. Are the teas Fair Trade? The fair trade premium is passed along to the consumer. Are the teas from an area with a higher cost of labor (Japan, Taiwan, etc.) or a lower cost (Kenya, Malawi, etc.)?

Are the teas fresh, or are they older teas that have been re-fired? Is there a high content of stalk, or is the tea in nice clean condition? If it is an aged compressed tea like Pu'er, has it been stored in high-quality conditions? Each year of quality storage increases the price for dark teas, but, most teas only lose freshness as they age, which should mean a decline in price.

How many middlemen has the tea passed through? Each middleman must make a profit, so the price increases with each level of "value addition".

Ultimately it comes down to making an educated guess, and many in the business world are reluctant to educate their consumers. As the old saying goes, "Never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump." :( Fortunately, through boards like this, through blogs, and through those who, while in the industry, are passionate enough about tea to see it as more than a means to an end, it is possible to become a more sophisticated purchaser. :D
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby gingkoseto » Dec 11th, '10, 22:41

mbanu wrote:For teas from India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya, auction prices are often publicly available going back several years for various estates. If you add a fair mark-up to these to cover the cost of packaging and importing, you could probably come up with a baseline price for tea in various grades and forms from the various areas.

Tea from areas without an auction system in place are a bit trickier to gauge...

Ultimately it comes down to making an educated guess, and many in the business world are reluctant to educate their consumers.


These are very good points! Starting from this year, a Da Fo Long Jing price index was launched to give people an idea about the regional whole sale prices. Many other tea regions may follow up by establishing their local tea market indexes. I am very curious to see how it will develop. Maybe this practice will result in less trickier tea trades. With today's information technology, there are more and more ways for people to gain and pass around information. Businesses have got to be more transparent.
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby entropyembrace » Dec 11th, '10, 22:59

mbanu wrote:
How many middlemen has the tea passed through? Each middleman must make a profit, so the price increases with each level of "value addition".


I would not call middlemen taking their cut as value addition :lol:

Too many middlemen and you just end up paying premium prices for stale, low grade tea...which is very common for tea shops in North America...

Personally I prefer buying from vendors that make direct trade...as in the retail vendor buys directly from the farm. That way there´s only one middleman :)
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby AdamMY » Dec 12th, '10, 00:44

Rather amazed at how consistent the voting seems to be. But I just want to let everyone know that you are allowed to vote for two options, ideally one of the first 10, and then one of the last 5 bonus options.
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Re: Expensive Vs. Inexpensive Tea?

Postby Marco » Dec 12th, '10, 15:23

Some good things are said.

BTW I think we have not to discuss the quality and that higher quality has higher prices because of greater efforts. I think that is natural. And it is natural too that some teas are a bargain and a lot of teas are overpriced.

My sessions use 5g more or less. And I have chosen 2$ per session. But I think 2$ is okay. Something between 2,50 and 3 I would call expensive.
But as some mentioned it really depends on the tea.
@nickE: I would put the "aged PuErh" in your Oolong region. If it has to be aged well over a period of 10-20 years it has its price.

Of course I would pay more for the same tea in a restaurant - but there are no such teas in our restaurants. (That’s why I drink coffee there)

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