I've occasionally had very good Chinese green tea cheap. The best green teas I've had in the low end of the price range have all been from China.
The rock-bottom, dirty-cheap example that I recently tried was Yun Wu (Cloud Mist) from San Francisco Herb Company
. You need to buy a pound (a friend did and shared some with me), but it's under $10 a pound. And it's really quite good--in my opinion better than some teas that have cost around $5 for a 1/4 pound.
The next-cheapest green teas, which I thought were even better than the Yun Wu, were sold in a box in Chinatown. The importer name was Starway
, but this isn't written on the box; they're effectively presented as brandless. Here's a pic of the box
if you want to keep an eye out for them. The two teas I liked were their Huang Shan Mao Feng and Bi Luo Chun. I did not enjoy any of the other teas from this same company, so I would not recommend purchasing any teas other than these (they also sell a generic green tea, and some oolongs, which I thought were terrible; I haven't tried their Pu-erh or white tea). These both cost about $4-5 for 6 ounces.
If you want to go just a notch up from these in price, I've had very good experiences with the cheapest of the Chinese green teas sold by Upton Tea Imports; they even carry quite a few that are both inexpensive and organic certified. My favorite was probably the Chun Mee Dao Ming
. This time of year it's sold out, but they do still have a few samples in stock, and that's a tea they've carried for years and restock regularly so I don't think there's much danger of it being discontinued. It's a very bold-flavored, strong green tea, but one of my favorites in the low end of the price range. The Chun Mee Moon Palace I also thought was good...a similar tea, but I don't like it quite as much as the Dao Ming.