(Grammar note: I think that “How much do different kinds of cup of tea cost?” would be more correct; but it feels wrong, and I am going with what feels right. See also: who vs. whom.)
Last time, I calculated that when I make a cup of tea, it costs 2.34 pence, made up of 0.8p for the teabag, 0.7p for the milk, 0.04p for the water and 0.8p to heat the water. That is using the cheapest regular tea available. But how much do other teas cost to make?
We’ve been drinking Earl Grey for many years, and more recently Lapsang Souchong. Since Christmas, we’ve added Lady Grey to our repertoire, too. We’re buying boxes of Twinings tea-bags for all of these, though no doubt there are more expensive and better options. Let’s look at the prices.
At Asda, we’re paying £3.50 for a box of 100 Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea-bags. (Asda do their own Early Grey at 89p per box of 50, but I’ve not yet found the courage to try it, having had bad experiences with Lidl own-brand Earl Grey.) They also sell boxes of 50 Lapsang Souchong tea-bags for £3.29, so what I’ve been doing instead is buying packs of four boxes (200 tea bags in total) for £12 a time.
Finally, there is Countess Grey, the absolutely delicious tea from Fortnum and Mason which I believe Lady Grey is based on. (Both of them taste rather like Earl Grey with the subtle addiiton of orange, but Countess Grey is much more integrated and organic tasting.) This is expensive. Fiona bought me two 25-bag boxes for my birthday at £5.25 per box. That’s £10.50 plus £5.95 shipping, a total of £16.45 for 50 tea bags.
So our prices come out as:
- Regular tea: 0.8p per bag
- Earl Grey: £3.50/100 = 3.5p
- Lady Grey: £3.50/100 = 3.5p
- Lapsang Souchong: £12/200 = 6p
- Countess Grey: £16.45/50 = 32.9p
Which means, when we add in the constant 1.54p for the milk, water and heating, the prices per cup of tea are:
- Regular tea: 2.34p
- Earl Grey: 5.04p
- Lady Grey: 5.04p
- Lapsang Souchong: £12/200 = 7.54p
- Countess Grey: £16.45/50 = 34.44p
That’s quite a difference. A cup of Countess Grey costs nearly seven times as much as Lady Grey. Is it seven times as good? Absolutely not. But is it worth an extra 29.4p? Maybe it is.
And most certainly Lapsang Souchong is worth an extra 5.2p per cup compared with regular tea. But does that mean it’s more than three time as good? Maybe not.
So the conclusion of all this is that it’s not clear to me what’s the right way to compare the prices of two different cups of tea. Of course, in practice, it’s not a matter of one of them being straight-up better than the others (except in the case of Countess Grey being a better version of Lady Grey). What we really like is the variety.
We will certainly keep regular tea, Earl Grey, Lady Grey and Lapsang Souchong all in regular rotation, and I think it’s probably a rare day when I don’t drink at least one cup of each of these. But Countess Grey feels like a luxury.