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Oct 6, 2008 05:42 AM

Best cheap tea?

Hi there,

After getting acquainted with the joys of fine tea, I have to face facts: I can't afford that fabulous-sounding first-flush Darjeeling at $20-odd per bag right now (could I ever?). Especially since I am weaning myself off high-octane coffee and drink a lot of tea throughout my work day.

I'm just a recent "gormay," though. I grew up on bagged black tea and have had some fine cups -- I'm partial to Twinings Lapsang Souchong -- though I know amazing deals can be had on loose leaf tea, too. What are your favorite cheap teas, bagged and loose?

Thus far, friends have recommended Trader Joe's Irish Breakfast tea and Red Rose (but the Canadian version, I think). I think the TJ's is a few dollars for 70 or 80 bags? Sounds good to me!

Thank you!

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  1. I can vouch for the Trader Joe's tea. I've tried the English breakfast and Irish breakfast, and both seem fine. I prefer the Irish. Nothing fancy, but not bitter or flavorless. Takes milk, sugar, or honey fine, and I even drink it black at work.

    1 Reply
    1. re: braisinhussy

      The Trader Joes Earl Grey is repulsive, vile, and nauseating.

    2. Red Rose is an orange pekoe. Many people like PG Tips from the UK as well.

      Personally, I'd go to my nearest Chinatown and buy a big package of loose leaf tea instead. You could use a tea strainer or even purchase bags and make your own tea bags yourself. To me, a low grade pu-erh tastes way better than some Red Rose.

      1 Reply
      1. re: anonymoose

        I can't stand PG Tips, personally. I like Twinings Early Grey or Assam.

      2. Upton tea has tea that ranges from $5.30/125gm (for a 2nd flush darjeeling, TGBOP1) on up. Ceylon teas can be even cheaper. Tea prices are going up - as with all food prices. And certainly, these cheaper teas are not as good as the more expensive ones. But they're still so much better than the powdered left-overs that go into any American tea bag.

        1. I normally go online. Some shops such as Adagio have clearance teas that can be had for cheap. I've ordered some chai from (I'm from Toronto) and their prices seem reasonable if you are into herbal loose leaf teas.

          1. I don't know if you consider this cheap, but hands down the best black tea (to me) is Yorkshire Gold from Taylors of Harrogate. It's about $7 for 40 bags, and you can get 2 cups from one bag. Very rich, full bodied - will put hair on your chest!

            Don't confuse it with their regular Yorkshire tea though - that's not as rich. It has to be the Gold (named after its beautiful color).

            1 Reply
            1. re: SeattleK

              That's funny, because I used to love their regular Yorkshire (haven't bought it in a while) and didn't like the gold.

              I think you should look into loose teas and learning how to brew them properly. If you look at how many ounces of tea there are in a box of tea bags, you'll realize loose tea is a lot cheaper, and is better quality as well.