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Tea - the cheapest

 
gardener
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I always thought that buying the cheap teas in the store was less expensive and being not rich, I went for that.

I then planned on some day growing my own, but the work required hasn't worked out for me yet.

Then I had all these friends telling me how wonderful and a good deal loose leaf tea is. "Right," I thought, "if your a conosur with some spare change." Well, I decided to check it out - see what all the rave was. To my surprise, loose leaf was much cheaper- even with the set-up costs. Even better was buying ones marketed as loose leaf herbs, rather than teas.

Compare:
-4 oz of herbs cost $3-4 + $2 for 50 tea bags = $6 for 50+ teas VS. 1.5 oz of herbs+tea bags $3

Loose leaf costs: $0.12 a tea bag
Manufacturer prepared: $0.15 a tea bag

Loose leaf often have more flavor, are fresher, and can be mixed to your own blend. (As well as looking really pretty and fancy)

So, if your in to teas and haven't figured it out, this is my analysis.

...variations from here are growing your own herbs and using tea balls instead of throw-away bags...all reducing costs.
 
pollinator
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I go for loose leaf Indian tea ( the small leaf kind) -- at my local Indian store it runs about $7/kg for Brook Bond or Lipton (from India, not the horrid "brisk" tea..)
I make tea by the cup with a teaspoon (3g) of tea in the bottom of the cup(before water!), pour hot water on top, and stir and steep for a few minutes -- drink down to the leaves in the bottom of the cup...
...so I get very nice tea for about 2 cents a cup!
 
Posts: 16
Location: Northern Rivers NSW Australia
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Go a step further (or backwards since I am going to talk about tea bags lol)...I like Chai (Indian spiced tea) which takes ages to make really well from scratch. I found a few good chai tea bag options... but they work out pricey at the rate I consume them. I decided instead to get a bunch of the spices and empty them into a tea caddy with a heap of inexpensive black tea in bags, and give them a mix or shake whenever I am in the kitchen. After a few days the tea tastes of the spices just enough to be delicious.

For those who would like to know, the basic spices are cinnamon sticks, cardomon pods, nutmegs, star anise..and a slice of fresh ginger in the cup finishes the whole thing off.
Yummy and about 25% of the price of the prepared product.
 
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Location: Northern England
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Lots of tea bags are now being made out of stuff that doesn't compost, so there's another good reason to switch.
 
Shep Wallaby
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Location: Northern Rivers NSW Australia
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Megan Wantoch wrote:Lots of tea bags are now being made out of stuff that doesn't compost, so there's another good reason to switch.



That is a really good point, actually.
 
gardener & author
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Darn right on the loose-leaf tea. I buy jasmine green tea from the Oriental market. A small box is around $4 and lasts forever.

Also, I started growing my own tea in the form of the most excellent "Yaupon Holly."

Nice, caffeinated, earthy flavor, despite its undeserved reputation.

"Ilex Vomitoria" is one of the least-fair botanical names. (Just 'cause the natives drank gallons of the stuff and then vomited on the Spanish, it doesn't mean the tea's no good!)
 
pollinator
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It is SO much cheaper. When my wife first switched, she bought the same $$$ worth of loose tea as she was planning to spend on a month's supply of teabags. Three YEARS later she had to order more, and that is because she gave a lot of it away as gifts.

The bag costs so much more than the tea, a reusable system (basket, ball, hemp or cotton bag, whatever works for you) will pay for itself in a few weeks.
 
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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Eric Thompson wrote:drink down to the leaves in the bottom of the cup...


Good point, although I prefer the classiness of a bombilla.
 
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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Josh T-Hansen wrote:

Eric Thompson wrote:drink down to the leaves in the bottom of the cup...


Good point, although I prefer the classiness of a bombilla.



thats what i was thinking too, who needs the bags? the balls and diffusers never worked well for me,always let stuff out.which i dont mind really ,but still.

i was down in bolivia last year fro a few months, drinking lots of coca tea and other herbs, they sell bombillas (metal tea straws) everywhere, very simple designs.
the one i got was stainless and has a tightly wound spring at the bottom, enough space for the liquids to pass but no leaves or even much particles, i use is all the time!
best 50 cents i ever spent. searching here they are about a 2,000% markup
this is similar to mine.
http://www.amazon.com/Silver-Bombilla-Drinking-Filtered-Argentina/dp/B004LSR8ZM/ref=pd_sim_k_6

 
pollinator
Posts: 1459
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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One step further maybe? Grow your own in Zones 7b and south of that. I have a Camellia - can't remember the actual variety name but it is a shrub donated to a museum garden by Charleston Tea Plantation - anyway I have a couple rooted for transplanting. If I can ever get motivated and away from my own garden during daylight hours i will transplant them and try to start growing my own. In the meantime:

Nettles make a fantastic substitute for black tea and are supposed to be so good for you. So far I have had only one measley nettle plant but I hear everyone else saying they are growing all over the place.
 
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As was already mentioned, growing your own is the cheapest option. Lucky enough, we live in zone 7, so we are able to grow many varieties of camellia. The nursery I work at has a decent selection, I think mainly of C. japonica and C. sasanqua, but none of C. sinensis, which is the true tea species, although they said they have had it before, and hope to get it again in the fall. I would definitely like to try the Yaupon Holly though, but I'm not sure it will survive here. Anyone with experience in growing it in zone 7? If you can grow camellia, would you be willing to be that you can grow Yaupon?
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1459
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I am 7b/8a and have several hollies. I am lax in keeping up with what varieties though. All are vigorous growers and I have had no problems with cold or heat. I'll have to look into the tea from them - never heard of it.
 
Rob Meyer
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It's said that Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra) is a good yaupon tea alternative.
 
Posts: 59
Location: NW Arkansas
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I really like the idea of matcha tea because you're consuming the nutritional value of the entire leaf instead of just an infusion, but I can't afford to drink it on a regular basis. So I empty three bags of regular green tea into the blender along with the yogurt and berries for my breakfast smoothie every day.
 
Posts: 22
Location: Big Bend area - North Florida (zone 8b)
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Growing tea Camellias (Camellia sinensis) from seed is very economical and easy to accomplish. And once you have your own plants, you can take cuttings each year when it's time to prune your tea bushes.

There are several sources for seeds. My plants were grown from seeds ordered from Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (USDA zone 7b).

Here's a link to their seed page:
https://camforest.com/collections/camellia-seeds

and here's a link to their tutorial on growing camellia seeds:
https://camforest.com/pages/growing-camellia-seeds

This page provides information on choosing the best quality and variety of seeds, what time of year to buy seed, how to store seed, and when to plant:
https://leafhousetea.com/how-to-grow-tea-camellia-plants-from-tea-seed-a-step-by-step-guide/

You can find additional seed sources through a quick Google search:

(https://www.google.com/search?q=camellia+sinensis+seeds&rlz=1C1AVNE_enUS611US643&oq=Camellia+sinensis+seeds&aqs=chrome.0.0i20i263i512j0i457i512j0i512l5j69i61.6370j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-

including this one:
https://www.caribbeangardenseed.com/products/green-tea-plant-seeds-camellia-sinensis-aka-tea-plant-perennial-shrub

There's a commercial tea grower in Athens, Georgia (USDA zone 8A).
http://www.piedmonttea.com/

and another in Brookhaven, Mississippi (USDA zone 8B):
http://www.greatmsteacompany.com/

They are part of the U.S. League of Tea Growers, working to establish tea as a new, ethically-produced, first-world crop in the southern U.S.:
https://usteagrowers.com/

Piedmont Tea Company has shared YouTube video tutorials on germinating tea seeds. Part One is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgsG6jtp5ZU

The University of Hawaii's Cooperative Extension Service (Manoa, Hawaii, USDA zone 11a) has provided an instructional pdf, "Germinating Tea Seeds," that also includes information about properly caring for young tea seedlings. The link is here:
https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/scm-17.pdf

There are so many kinds of Camellias you can grow from seeds and/or cuttings:
* C. sasanqua (a fall-blooming evergreen ornamental)
* C. japonica (a spring-blooming evergreen ornamental)  
* C. sinensis (the source of green, black, and ooling tea)
* and even C. oleifera, grown for its oil!

As Rob Meyer pointed out, growing our own is always the cheapest solution. And
as Jeanine Gurley Jacildone noted, USDA zones 7B and south are great for growing Camellia sinensis tea!
 
Posts: 60
Location: currently in Wembley, AB - moving to Southern BC soon!
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Wonderful - I love tea so much that I drink a nice large cup about 2 to 3 times a day. I ordered 10 seeds for $10 from a Canadian Etsy seller.

I don't know anything about growing tea bushes though. How do they multiply? Ideally I think I need quite a few more than 10 tea bushes.
 
Janet Bailey
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Lana Berticevich wrote, "How do they multiply? Ideally I think I need quite a few more than 10 tea bushes."



Camellias can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings in autumn -  September, October, and November in USDA zone 8.  The first picture shows some Camellia sasanqua cuttings from 2020 that were repotted into gallon pots this month.

Here's how I hope to go from 10 Camellia sinensus (Tea Camellias) to 40 this year...

I'm taking cuttings from the Camellia sinensis (tea camellias) I grew from seed in 2019. These were set out as young plants in 2020.

The cuttings are about 8" (20 cm) long and with all but one or two leaves leaves removed. The outside halves of the leaves are cut off to reduce the leaf surface area and the cuttings are soaked in cool water.

I stuck the cuttings to just below the leaves in perlite in a plastic nursery pot and put them in a shady area where they will be sheltered from wind.

I usually do not have to use rooting hormone, but using it might increase your success rate. I find that scraping some of the cambium around the cuttings' nodes works as well as rooting hormone to improve rooting success.

Our north Florida climate is humid year-round, so I do not have to raise the cuttings' humidity as long as I keep the plastic pots under a tree and among fallen leaves. Open air circulation keeps the cuttings healthy over the winter months and I do water the cuttings often. British Columbia's humid climate should work with the open-air method. In a dryer climate, humidity could be increased by keeping the cuttings in an unheated greenhouse or high tunnel, under shade, as long as the air circulation was good and the cuttings were watered frequently - once or twice daily - or kept moist with an intermittent misting system.
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Lana Berticevich
Posts: 60
Location: currently in Wembley, AB - moving to Southern BC soon!
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Janet Bailey wrote:



Camellias can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings in autumn -  September, October, and November in USDA zone 8.  The first picture shows some Camellia sasanqua cuttings from 2020 that were repotted into gallon pots this month.

Here's how I hope to go from 10 Camellia sinensus (Tea Camellias) to 40 this year...

I'm taking cuttings from the Camellia sinensis (tea camellias) I grew from seed in 2019. These were set out as young plants in 2020.

The cuttings are about 8" (20 cm) long and with all but one or two leaves leaves removed. The outside halves of the leaves are cut off to reduce the leaf surface area and the cuttings are soaked in cool water.

I stuck the cuttings to just below the leaves in perlite in a plastic nursery pot and put them in a shady area where they will be sheltered from wind.

I usually do not have to use rooting hormone, but using it might increase your success rate. I find that scraping some of the cambium around the cuttings' nodes works as well as rooting hormone to improve rooting success.

Our north Florida climate is humid year-round, so I do not have to raise the cuttings' humidity as long as I keep the plastic pots under a tree and among fallen leaves. Open air circulation keeps the cuttings healthy over the winter months and I do water the cuttings often. British Columbia's humid climate should work with the open-air method. In a dryer climate, humidity could be increased by keeping the cuttings in an unheated greenhouse or high tunnel, under shade, as long as the air circulation was good and the cuttings were watered frequently - once or twice daily - or kept moist with an intermittent misting system.



Thank you so very much for the detailed pictures and information!

gift
 
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