How much for a takeaway cup of tea?Which? found where a cuppa can cost a packet

24 June 2010

Costa coffee shop front

Ask in store at Costa coffee and staff will tell you the nutritional information for food and drinks

Which? hit the High Street and found some retailers charging nearly double for the same teabag

Ever fancied a cup of tea when out and about but winced at the cost? Which? took a snapshot of prices for the smallest takeaway cups of tea on offer at nine high street outlets, and found some to be shockingly expensive.

The tip - to shop around

Even for the same PG Tips teabag, which costs around 3p if you buy a packet from the supermarket, the price at Subway (99p) and McDonald's (89p) was nearly double an independent's (50p).

The most expensive cup was from Costa - £1.65 for a Twinings Everyday, which costs about 4p per bag. This was closely followed by Burger King's £1.59 for a Tetley's teabag costing around 3p.

Martyn Hocking, Editor of Which?, says: "As tea bags cost a few pence each, the charge for adding boiling water and milk can be startling. The wooden spoon goes to Costa where a cuppa can cost a packet."

Prices paid

  • Independent - 50p
  • McDonald's - 89p
  • Greggs - 99p
  • Subway - 99p
  • KFC - £1.19
  • Pret A Manger - £1.30
  • Starbucks - £1.45
  • Burger King - £1.59
  • Costa - £1.65

Visible and invisible costs

When we asked the retailers to justify their costs, some pointed to 'added value elements' - McDonald's Rainforest Alliance tea is served with organic milk and Pret A Manger's whole-leaf tea is served in a biodegradable bag. You are also paying what Whittard tea expert Giles Hilton calls the 'visible credits' - how clean the shop is; staff attitude; how well your cup of tea is made, and 'invisibles' such as rent and wages.

But the gap in price between a teabag costing a few pence and the prices we paid for them just to add boiling water and milk remains startling.

Tea and coffee makers

Tea is still very popular - the Tea Council says Britons drink 165 million cups of tea a day and recent Which? research found that 34% of members take teabags on holiday with them. 

Read the free Which? advice guide to buying the best kettle or our members-only kettles review, with no fewer than 152 tested but only 36 Best Buys and three Don't Buys. We've even reported on how to make the perfect cup of tea.

But if coffee is your tipple, our comprehensive guide to coffee machines is worth a read - bean to cup, espresso or pod?


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