What’s the largest sum of money you’d pay for a cup of tea? My answer is not very much, though I can’t really narrow it down to a precise dollar (or cents) figure. I’ve discoursed on tea economics here many times now and I won’t go into it too deeply except to say that the cost of tea that might seem expensive at first is often quite reasonable once you break it down to a per cup basis.

English Breakfast Tea No. 2 (ETS image)

English Breakfast Tea No. 2 (ETS image)

I recently reordered a quite good black tea that I’ve been drinking off and on that costs about fifty cents per cup (shipping costs included). Which was a little more than I expected until I sat down and did the math and it’s about the limit of what I’d pay, but it’s not all that unreasonable for really good tea.

There are a number of reasons I don’t drink tea that I don’t make myself. One of them is the cost. Although the issue of quality is one to keep in mind, an issue that can be circumvented by going to a place that serves decent tea. What I can say for sure is that even if I could afford to pay the staggering sum of six dollars for a cup of tea, I wouldn’t. The exception might be for some fabulous rarity but even then I’d have to really think it over. All of which came to mind recently when I ran across an article in a Canadian business journal called Welcome to the Age of the $6 Cup of Tea.

I sat up and took notice since I wrote an article just a few months ago at this site called Tea Bars, the $5 Cup of Tea & the Future of Tea. It discussed a certain coffee retailing giant who recently purchased a certain tea retailing giant and is planning to open a zillion tea bars throughout the known universe. One of their first achievements has apparently been to encourage customers to part with large sums of money for a cup of tea.

The Canadian article discusses the same themes but points out that said firm is actually getting six bucks for some of their cups of tea, which is great for their bottom line but pretty lousy for tea drinkers, if I may offer my opinion on the matter. The article also discusses one of the big players in the Canadian tea bar/tea house business, who are apparently pursuing a similar approach to getting customers to shell out for tea.

The good news, what little bit there is of it, is that tea concerns such as this one (and most others) still sell loose tea that cost-conscious customers can buy and take home. Where they can prepare it for a fraction of what they’d pay to have someone do it.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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