Looking for cheap loose leaf green tea? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we are going to be counting down the top 10 best cheap loose leaf green teas and telling you a little bit about each one. We’ll also spend some time talking about different types of green teas that tend to be cheaper and how you can get more for your money in the world of tea. Let’s get started! 🍃🍵
Top 10 of the Best Cheap Loose Leaf Green Teas
#1 Bancha Masudaen
Bancha Masudaen is a must have in any list of cheap loose leaf green teas. This tea is a perfect example of using the less desirable parts of the tea plant and turning it into a good standalone tea, a recurring theme for this segment. In the case of the Bancha, it is made from the older leaves of the tea plant, which are higher in minerals and lower in caffeine.
The bancha made by Mr. Masuda in Shizuoka takes on a mild, cereal or wooden flavor that is quite pleasant. The flavor of this tea really lasts from brewing to brewing, so you can reuse the leaves 5-6 times before they loose flavor. This lowers the price tag of this already cheap loose leaf green tea even further, so you can enjoy it for just a few cents per glass!
#2 Kukicha Osada
The Kukicha Osada is a fantastic stem tea made up in the mountains of shizuoka. This tea was produced by the Osada family. Once a small family business, the family tea farm is now thriving, employing many people from the town. Even though they have grown, they are still able to maintain excellent quality control by working with a handful of small farmers in Shizuoka.
These small farmers have all taken a pledge to not use pesticides or chemicals in the production of green tea, earning this area the nickname of isagawa or the organic village. The kukicha osada greatly benefits from the mineral rich mountain soil of this area. You really get this tingling sensation on the palate as you drink this tea, due to a combination of the minerality and the subtle astringency.
#3 Kuki Hojicha
The kuki hojicha is an innovative hojicha tea made by Mr. Issin in Miyazaki prefecture. Up in the mountains of Takachiho, Mr. Issin is hard at work crafting beautiful pan-fired green teas like the Kamairicha Issin. He also uses this pan roasting technique to produce a fully roasted hojicha tea out of the stems of the tea plant.
By using the stems, he is able to achieve a darker roast, which is why the kuki hojicha has these intense warmer flavors of black coffee and dark chocolate. Because the tea is made out of the stems of the tea plant, it is also low in caffeine. All of these factors make it ca great addition to our list of the best best cheap loose leaf green teas.
#4 Kukicha Sakamoto
Number 4 on our list of the best cheap loose leaf green teas is another stem tea, the kukicha sakamoto. This tea is made by the legendary farmer Mr. Sakamoto, who normally specializes in the production of Gyokuro, a premium loose leaf green tea.
He also uses the stems of the gyokuro tea plant to make a cheap loose leaf green tea called kukicha. This is a good way to sample some of the sweeter flavors of Japanese green tea, without the high price tag that normally accompanies gyokuro. Compared to a normal gyokuro, the kukicha sakamoto still has this nice sweet flavor, but it is accompanies by these drier hay and floral notes.
#5 Sencha Henta
Although the price tag on this tea doesn’t make it quite cheap loose leaf green tea, it does justify the extra spending with a fantastic flavor profile. Mr. Henta is an experienced tea farmer with a great knowledge of tea varieties or cultivars. For his signature tea, the Sencha Henta, he blends together 8 different tea varieties to accomplish the perfect flavor.
This tea has a little bit of everything in its flavor. It has a little bit of this savory flavor, a hint of sweetness, a touch of umami and its rounded out by these steamed vegetable notes. If you really want to enjoy a complex tea tasting experience, the henta sencha is the right choice!
#6 Sencha Henta Saemidori
This is another tea from Mr. Henta, only this time it is made from just one tea cultivar, saemidori. Saemidori is known for its light sweetness, and this tea perfectly captures the essence of that. The color of the tea becomes a thick bright green and the flavor is really strong on these sweet notes. If you really want to try a unique tea experience, check out the henta saemidori sencha.
#7 Sencha Shincha Nuruki
We thought we would also add a shincha to our list of cheap loose leaf green tea. While this is normally known as a premium loose leaf green tea, the shincha nuruki is quite affordable. It’s produced by a young farmer names Mr. Nuruki who grows tea in the beautiful small town of Chiran. This town is on the very southern tip of the island of kyushu, and the tea grown here greatly benefits from the fertile volcanic soil and warm subtropical climate.
The Sencha shincha nuruki is the first to be harvested at the beginning of each year. It has a nice smooth flavor to it with a little bit of sweetness and a nice umami finish. Definitely a tea worth trying at some point!
#8 Shincha Kasugaen Asatsuyu
The shincha Kasugaen Asatsuyu is a classic deep steamed tea from Mr. Kawaji in Kagoshima. Mr. Kawaji specializes in these Fukamushi or deep steamed teas that are steamed for an extra 30 seconds. During this extra steaming time, the cell membranes of the leaf are broken down, allowing more of the leaf to flow into the cup. This also creates a beautiful jade green color, particularly in the second brewing.
In the case of the Asatsuyu, the tea takes on these pleasant flavors of sweet corn and steamed edamame. This is still considered to be a cheap loose leaf green tea in the world of shincha, and it is among one of the most loved green teas from Japan!
#9 Fukamushi sencha yamaga no Sato
The Fukamushi sencha yamaga no sato is another classic deep steamed tea, and even with its well-earned reputation, it still remains a cheap loose leaf green tea. This tea is produced by the farmers at Satoen in Shizuoka, Japan's largest tea growing region.
What makes the Yamaga no sato so special is this beautiful lychee berry note that comes out, particularly when the tea is prepared as a cold brew. The feedback on this tea has been universally positive, and it is also ranked as one of our best green teas for cold brewing.
#10 Gyokuro Cha Musume
The Gyokuro Cha Musume may not be what comes to mind when you think of cheap loose leaf green tea, but the price tag isn’t much higher than a lot of sencha teas, so we thought we would include it on our list. This is the most popular tea produced by Mr. Sakamoto, and it is made from the Yabukita cultivar.
To make gyokuro, the farmer must shade the tea plant for 3 weeks prior to the harvest. Then the top 3 sprouts of the tea plant are selected, as these have the highest nutrient content. The leaves are then steamed, dried and rolled into these beautiful needle shaped leaves. The tea is renowned for its strong sweet and savory flavor, and it likely the most sought after leaf tea in Japan. Given all the work that goes into making this tea, and the affordable price tag, we wanted to include it on our list of the best cheap loose leaf green tea.
Is loose green tea cheaper?
While loose green tea does tend to be more expensive that teabags, this is mostly due to the vast quality differential between the two teas. It’s not that it’s cheaper to put tea into a teabag vs selling it loose, it’s just that large manufacturers use the teabags as a way to disguise lower quality tea leaves that wouldn’t normally be sold in loose leaf form. If you really want to upgrade your tea experience, the best thing you can do is switch from teabags to loose leaf.
Is it cheaper to get loose leaf tea vs tea bags?
As mentioned before, the price differential in loose leaf tea vs tea bags can be misleading. For example, a teabag costs about 40 cents whereas a “session” of quality bancha tea costs about 50 cents. This may seem like the teabag is cheaper, but what you don’t see is that the teabag contains 2 grams of leaves, whereas the bancha contains 5 grams. The bancha can also be used 5-6 times, and the teabag is designed to be only used once so this means that cup for cup the bancha can be ¼ the price. In addition to this, you get a much richer flavor out of the loose leaf tea, so in reality you get so much more for your money even when you compare cheap loose leaf green tea with teabags.
Which is the best affordable green tea?
Certain types of loose leaf tea tend to be cheaper than others. Here we are going to highlight 4 types of cheap loose leaf green teas that tend to give you a very good value for your money.
#1 Gyokuro Cha Musume
Although the gyokuro cha musume is not the best example of a cheap loose leaf green tea overall, it does bring a lot of value for the price. Even though this tea is a much lower price compared to similar gyokuro teas, it is consistently our highest rated tea. If you were to make a list of all the affordable loose leaf green teas and ranked them by popularity, this one would take the top of the list!
#2 Noike Hojicha
When it comes to the best cheap loose leaf green tea, the Noike hojicha is the clear winner in terms of roasted teas. This tea is grown by Mr. Nike, a talented farmer that grows tea on a small pilot of land just outside of Kyoto. Because his tea field is surrounded by a large pine forest, they receive partial shading throughout the day. This actually makes the tea plants slightly sweeter, and the hojicha is a good example of that. People have really been responding well to this tea, and we’re really happy to share it!
#3 Henta Sencha Saemidori
With a price tag under 35 cents per gram, the henta sencha saemidori certainly has earned a spot on our list of the best cheap loose leaf green tea. This tea has sweet, almost syrupy taste to it and a smooth finish. Normally a flavor like this is something you would experience on a premium gyokuro or kabuse sencha, but the saemidori sencha is able to deliver it at a fraction of the cost.
The henta saemidori sencha is consistently one of our most favored sencha teas. The reviews speak for themselves and the fans of this tea seem to always be scrambling to keep it in stock.
Which cheap loose leaf green tea is best?
Bancha is the first cheap loose leaf green tea on our list. While most premium green teas like sencha, Gyokuro and matcha are made from the younger leaves of the tea plant, Bancha is made from the older leaves.
While the tea plant needs to produce a lot of caffeine to protect its younger, more tender leaves from insects, these tougher leaves produce less caffeine. The tea can also contain older tea stems, which have a tiny bit of bark on them.
The flavor of bancha is quite different as well. While sencha is stronger on these steamed vegetable taste profiles, the flavor of Bancha rests more on these notes of warm wood, cereal and popcorn. There is a slight hint of these more citrusy flavors, but they are not too sharp on the palate.
Bancha makes for a good snacking tea, as it pairs well with things like nuts and popcorn. This tea is commonly drunk after a meal to help with digestion.
Another cheap loose leaf green tea on our list is Genmaicha. Genmaicha is made by combining tea leaves with toasted rice. Like a lot of the other teas on this list, genmaicha was invented as a way to make the tea harvest last longer.
During times of hardship, people would add the toasted rice to the tea leaves to increase their tea supply. It also can help during times of fasting, as the flavor of this tea is reminiscent of a nice warm bowl of rice. The tea has become quite popular due to its lower price tag, its warm cereal flavor and its lower caffeine content.
This is a common tea to serve at restaurants because it is well liked and low in caffeine. The leaves used to make this tea are the older leaves of the tea plant, making it similar to one of the earlier cheap loose leaf green teas we mentioned, bancha.
The third cheap loose leaf green tea on our list is hojicha. This is a roasted tea that was discovered in the 20th century, as tea producers again wanted to make sure they could get the most out of their harvest. This tea is also made from the older leaves of the tea plant, but they are roasted in order to give them warmer tasting notes of coffee, caramel or even chocolate.
The leaves are either turned in a roasting machine or in a large hot pan until they are all fully roasted. The leaves change from green to brown, and the color of the brewed tea now becomes a reddish brown. This tea becomes more popular in the fall and winter months, and in some parts of Japan you can even see them roasting hojicha at street markets.
The tea is still drunk in the summer and is especially enjoyed as a cold brew. The cold water extracts more of the sweeter caramel notes from the tea, making a nice refreshing drink for a hot day.
Finally on our list of the best varieties of cheap loose leaf green tea we have kukicha, a tea made by combining stems with tea leaves. This tea was a discovery made by farmers, as they had to sell all the tea leaves they produced and were only left with the stems.
They found that these worked quite well when infused, and soon began experimenting with different types of stem teas. Now stem teas have become more appreciated, with some even preferring them because of their mild, straw flavor.
The stems of the tea plant do not produce nearly as much caffeine as the leaves, so these kukicha teas are known for being low in caffeine. Karigane is a more premium stem tea thats made from the stems and leaves of shaded tea plants, like those used for Gyokuro. This tea takes on a much sweeter flavor, and works great as a cold brew.
Is there an inexpensive matcha option as well?
Latte Matcha Basic Grade
Although it is not technically a type of cheap loose leaf green tea, the Latte Matcha Basic Grade is an affordable way to get a matcha experience. While premium ceremonial grade matcha is quite expensive, this matcha used for lattes Is quite affordable.
A good way to get into the world of matcha is to begin by experimenting with lattes and this is the perfect matcha for that. It has a slightly stronger flavor that can be tasted through the oatmilk, giving you a nice balance between the smooth creamy flavors and the more vegetal flavors of the matcha.
Once you start to like the flavors of these matcha lattes, you can always substitute it for more premium matchas later on. The latte grade matcha is also lower in caffeine, so you can drink it throughout the day rather than just in the morning.
An honorable mention in our affordable matcha segment is the matcha tea noike. While this matcha may seem to be quite expensive to most people, in terms of quality it is half the price of a lot of it’s competitors. Just like the Noike Hojicha, this matcha is produced on the small farm of Mr. Noike. Mr. Noike likes to keep his overhead low and let the quality of the tea speak for itself.
This matcha is incredible smooth because it comes from the okumidori cultivar. Although it may be in the price range of a latte grade matcha, this tea is smooth enough to drink plain. This is definitely a good starting point if you are interested in diving into the world of the tea ceremony, and preparing your own matcha at home.
Final word on the list of the Best Cheap Loose Leaf Green Teas
If you’re interested in cheap loose leaf green tea, you might also be interested in saving money on high quality tea as well. If this is the case, we recommend you sign up for the monthly tea club. You’ll get our best teas delivered at a 16% discount and you’ll get a free teapot to prepare them all in. This is the perfect way to begin your journey into Japanese green tea, especially if you’re on a budget.
Thank you all so much for reading this article. If you have any questions, or suggestions for other types of cheap loose leaf green tea, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until then, we’ll see you next time.