Price of cuppa plummets

With the cost of tea dropping to its lowest price in 30 years, EDP reporters – who all love a brew– felt a snap survey to find the cheapest cuppas was called for

As we go about our busy lives there are many things we give up (lunch breaks, a social life, seeing daylight) but some things remain sacred - like the ritual of making time for a good old cup of tea.

In Britain we drink a staggering 165 million cups a day - and many of us will pay well over the odds for someone else to brew it for us.

But now a tea price war is breaking out with the cost of a cuppa dropping to its lowest for 30 years.

Supermarkets now sell tea bags at between a halfpenny and 1p each.

That means shoppers pay less than a quarter of what they had to fork out back in 1977 after inflation is taken into account.

While The Ritz might still be billed as the ultimate place to enjoy a decadent afternoon tea - with cucumber sandwiches and fairy cakes - many people will tell you the best cuppa they ever had was from a roadside cafe or market stall.

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And if our survey is anything to go by, Norwich market is as good a place as anywhere to find the cheapest cuppa - just 50p a mug, compared to £1.45 at the city's Starbucks.

Perhaps not surprisingly, sedate Southwold appears to be among the most expensive.

Generally, our random survey showed a pot of tea priced at between £1.10 and £1.75.

Afternoon tea has even caught on across the Atlantic.

In New York the likes of Kate Moss and Quentin Tarantino have popped in to the British themed café Tea and Sympathy for a brew and dance.

But does the drop in price transfer to the growing number of tea shops?

Tony Smith, owner of Sarah's Tearooms, in Yarmouth, said: “The price of tea might have dropped but we have to provide facilities.

“We are paying half as much again as we were for the premises, the cups, spoons, electricity, and salaries.

“Also, if you sit in a chair to drink a cup of tea you still take up as much space as someone eating a full meal.”

And experts are now warning that some Third World producers will face bankruptcy if prices continue to be driven down - and there are calls for a minimum wholesale price for tea as there is for coffee.

Supermarket Own Brand Guide author Martin Isark said: “We should all be able to afford 3p for a cup of tea.”

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