What Does It Cost To Start Making Tea?

Whenever I discuss tea with someone, one of the issues that always comes up is that they don’t even know where to start brewing tea or how much it all costs. It feels like a daunting task to figure out what’s needed – kettle, a tea pot, strainers and the like – and where to buy it and how much it should all cost. So I’ve come up with a guide of how much it costs to start making tea three different ways. Two options for western brewing and one for gong fu cha.

I will say that I can attest to all of these items with the exception of the western pot. I have purchased all of these and they are either the cheapest or really close to the cheapest items that I could find online. For simplicity, I have used the prices from the same website – the very large online retailer that we all either love or hate. That being said, I am not getting any kind of commissions on these items. There are also many many different options for all of these pieces, but I am presenting what I believe is the cheapest way to make high quality tea with products that are worth the money.

For western style brewing, I wanted to present two options with the difference being the type of kettle used. If you really want to use as little money as possible, then you can buy a stovetop kettle. I did use this type of kettle at first myself. The stove top kettles are quite cheap, but they take longer to heat water than an electric kettle and there is not a temperature gauge on them. So for this option I am including a water temperature gauge since most teas brew best with water less than boiling, especially green teas. I am also including a charcoal water filter stick that I still use and a teapot with a built in strainer. I did not use this exact teapot but I still have one very similar to it that I use when I want certain teas that I like better western brewed.

As far as water goes, it’s a personal preference of course, but there is general agreement that filtered water makes for better tea. For $8 I think it’s a worthwhile investment.

Western Brew Option 1Price
Stove Top Kettle$12
Water Temperature Gauge $8
Water Filter Stick $8
Teapot with Strainer Built-In$23
Total Price$51

For the second option of western brewing, instead of a stove top kettle, I am suggesting the real workhorse of my house – the electric variable temperature kettle. This particular kettle performs beautifully and will keep your water at a set temperature in case you come back for multiple brews. The other items on here are the same as above – the water filter stick and the teapot with strainer.

Western Brew Option 2Price
Electric Variable Temperature Kettle$53
Water Filter Stick $8
Teapot with Strainer Built-In$23
Total Price$84

That brings us to the third method of brewing – Gong Fu Cha – or the Chinese style. If you are unfamiliar with gong fu cha, there are a lot of resources online detailing the process, but it basically involves using a higher leaf to water ration than western brewing and making more infusions of the leaves. It can result in a better tasting tea in the opinion of many, including myself, but don’t be put off by it being something new and strange. I was making tea for two years before I ever tried gong fu cha.

For gong fu brewing, you need a vessel called a gaiwan, which in Chinese means lidded cup. Gaiwans do not have strainers in them so you would also need a strainer. You pour the tea from the gaiwan into your mug through the strainer and you have delicious tea. For this option, I am only including the electric varaible temperature kettle as you will need your water to stay hot for a long time and a stove top kettle would be inefficient, although you certainly could use it in a pinch.

Gong Fu ChaPrice
Electric Variable Temperature Kettle$53
Water Filter Stick $8
Gaiwan $10
Strainer $8
Total Price$79

I’ve also included two optional items. First is a fairness pitcher which is used in gong fu brewing. This is really only needed if you are brewing tea for two or more people. If you are brewing solo, you can pour straight into your cup, but if you are brewing for multiple people, it is custom to use a fairness pitcher. The idea is that the tea is the pitcher is all brewed the same amount of time. It is then poured from the pitcher into the cups, so that no one gets tea that is under brewed while the other gets tea that is over brewed. Remember the brew times are really short for gong fu (think 15 seconds).

The other option is something that I did for a long time and can be used for either western or gong fu style brewing. I used this in my office when we had a coffee maker with the hot water tab. It’s a strainer that sits in your mug and brews the tea in the mug. When you are done brewing, simply lift the basket out of the mug and place it on the lid. It’s genius really and very affordable. If you are curious about tea and you have a hot water source, this could be a really cheap and easy way to dip your toe into tea.

Optional ItemsPrice
Fairness Pitcher $13
Strainer for In-Mug Brewing$6
Total $19

So, for anywhere between $51 and $84 you can have everything you need to brew really good tea. All of these items are one time investments that will last a long time with the exception of the filter which needs to be replaced every six months. It’s not too complicated to get started and I hope this can help clear up some confusion for anyone interested in tea but overwhelmed by the options.

A note on some other brewing methods. Teabags – I drank teabags for more than a year before I ever drank loose leaf tea. If that’s what you like by all means I am not going to knock it, but I personally think loose leaf tea is so much better and there is the argument about microplastics so I am not recommending tea bags. Microwaving water – don’t do it. Water can become superheated and it can be very dangerous. Besides that, it makes the water taste flat, which will in turn make your tea taste flat. I beg you, don’t microwave your water to make tea.

This list is in no way exhaustive as of course there are many different ways to make tea and too many choices for products to use. These are all items that will give you the ability to make great tea at the best prices. There are many different sellers that sell quality items that are certainly worth the money, but not the cheapest. Just for fun, here’s a picture of my gaiwan, strainer and fairness pitcher that I was using while researching this post. Cheers!

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