All tea leaves come from the same plant i.e. Camellia Sinensis irrespective of the type and price of the tea. Its flavor and taste depend on the way it is harvested; sometimes it would also depend on the location of its harvest. Finding the cheapest tea is rather difficult, as it would primarily depend on the quality and taste of the tea you want. The price mentioned below is the general price of most of the popular brands available in the USA. Moreover, the price mentioned here is for loose tea leaves; for teabags, the price will much cheaper, and if you buy in bulk.
Here are top cheapest tea in the USA
01. White Tea ($19.99 for 1.5 oz)
White tea is the least processed among all and is just dried. Good quality white tea is sweet and light. They also contain the highest levels of antioxidants. Gourmet tea drinkers would largely prefer white tea over other types.
02. Green Tea ($10.99 for 2 oz)
Green tea is basically white tea that has been steamed at the high temperature right after picking. The expensive ones can go as high as £1,000 a kilo and are smooth and sweet. The cheaper ones would be bitter and grassy.
03. Oolong ($12.99 for 2 oz)
Oolong is a white tea that has been partially oxidized. The lighter variants are fruity and the darker ones are roasted which gives a nutty taste.
04. Black tea ($9.99 for 2 oz)
Black tea is fully oxidized which brings a wide range of flavors. The expensive ones give a taste of chocolate or floral flavors; whereas the cheaper versions are bitter and sharp.
05. Pu’erh tea ($15.99 for 12 oz)
This type of tea is fermented and comes in cakes or chunks which are crumbled into a teapot while brewing. It gives an earthy and umami flavor.
06. Flavored tea ($6.40 for 1.76 oz)
Some tea varieties are scented with fresh flowers such as jasmine or rose or bergamot oil. Many commercial teas available adds flavors and scents. Most tea lovers would avoid flavored tea except for the Earl Grey.
07. Herbal teas ($7.13 for 2 oz)
Herbal tea doesn’t really come from Camellia Sinensis and not tea at all. It is basically an infusion of dried herbs such as chamomile, hibiscus, mint, lemon verbena etc. Herbal tea is a cheaper but healthier alternative as it doesn’t contain any caffeine but does lack beneficial antioxidants.
08. Dark Tea ($28.95 for 1 lb)
This variant of tea is harvest in the Hunan and Sichuan provinces of China and is a type of probiotic tea that leaves a naturally sweet taste.
09. Yellow Tea ($69.99 for 1 oz)
It is a rare type of tea which looks similar to green tea. It typically goes through more oxidation process than other green teas and is dried slowly. All yellow teas are harvested in China.
Common Types of Flavored Tea
01. Earl Grey ($15 for 1 lb)
Earl Grey is the most popular flavored tea in Britain. The tea leaves are prepared by adding bergamot extract to black tea. Premium Earl Grey is created by infusing the best Italian bergamot to black tea. On the contradictory, it was created in the 1800s to mask the flavor of cheap tea and sell it at a premium price.
02. Jasmine Green tea ($1.29 for 1 oz)
Jasmine tea is created by infusing green tea with an aroma of jasmine blossoms. This is the most popular flavored tea in China. Infusing the scent of jasmine is a laborious process which takes up to several nights. The green tea is stored with the flowers in a special room with controlled humidity and is done at night because it blooms at night. The process has to be repeated for several nights to get the right scent.
03. Masala tea ($5.50 for 1 oz)
Masala tea or masala chai is black tea mixed with Indian spices such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger etc. The tea is prepared by boiling it in water and milk, then sweetened by adding sugar. In the west they call it Chai tea; chai literally means tea in Hindi.
04. Lemon Ginger Black tea ($3 for 1 oz)
This is a rather new blend of flavors and scent. Lemon ginger tea is basically black tea blended with dried pineapple, lemongrass, calendula, sunflower petals, and ginger. There are other new blends such as Blueberry black tea, where the black tea is blended with raisins, blueberries, currants, elderberries, and rosehip.
Common Herbal Tea Blends or Tisanes
01. Fruit Teas ($14)
Fruit teas are made from unprocessed fruits which gives a sweet taste but not as strong as sugar. These teas are high in antioxidants and Vitamin-C and don’t contain caffeine. People prefer herbal tea before going to bed. Some prefer iced tea which makes it a healthier alternative to soft drinks and packaged fruit juices.
02. Flower Teas ($15)
Some flowers have therapeutic properties which calm your nerves and doesn’t keep you awake at night. Some of the common flower tea use dried chamomile flowers, and dried rosebuds. These tea have high levels of antioxidants and other health benefits.
03. Leaf Teas ($25 for assorted containers)
These are made from a blend of non-tea leaves such as Yerba Mate which contains leaves of holly tree of South American. However, it does contain caffeine from Arabica coffee. Another popular leaf tea is made from leaves of Rooibos plant. These trees are grown exclusively in South Africa.
How to Brew a Tea?
- Leaf to water ratio
- Water temperature
- Infusing time
Brewing a good tea is an art in itself; brewing to right way would yield better flavor and taste; especially if you are brewing some high-quality white tea.
Brewing begins with taking the right amount of leaves per teacup. Roughly it takes 2-3 gram of whole leaves for a cup of team or 150ml. If you like your tea strong experts suggest using more tea instead of infusing it for longer. More tea would give you a heavier flavor, but infusing it longer would only make it bitter.
Different types of tea need different temperatures to dissolve its flavors. For white and green tea, you would get a better flavor at low temperatures (70°C). For black tea, you have to brew it at over 80°C or at 90-95°C with milk. Brewing at boiling water will only leave a tannin taste, stripping away most of its flavors. Boiling water is good only for tea bags and herbal infusions. For the perfect tea, you should use temperature controlled kettles.
Infusing longer will leave a bitter and tannin taste to the tea, which is why experts say to use more tea instead of infusing it longer. For a light infusion brew for one minute, for a strong brew for two minutes and for a very strong infusion brew for three minutes. If you want a second cup of tea, just brew them in freshwater. Good quality teas can be infused many times and even producing a better flavor when brewed again.
These are one of the many reasons why we suggest to buy loose leaves instead of tea bags which are mostly flavored and scented to increase sales. Tea bags mostly contain broken leaves which are used for convenience. But, real tea comes in whole leaves which when brewed they unfurl and swell, giving a smooth infusion.
Different types of tea would give different flavors which also varies depending on the region where tea has been harvested. Expensive tea leaves cost more to produce and have to be brewed carefully if you don’t want to overdo it.