The real Brexit crisis: the price of a cuppa is set to soar

'Builder's tea' in a Union Jack flag mug with two homemade oat cookie biscuits

It doesn't matter where you stand on the issue of Brexit, one thing is certain: the decision to leave Europe, and the subsequent plunge in the value of the pound against other currencies, has brought about a proper British crisis - because the price of a cup of tea is set to rise.

The news was revealed by The Grocer Magazine. It said that the heart of the matter is the fall in the value of the pound against other currencies. It means that when British brands like Tetley buy in their raw materials - like the tea itself - they have to spend more in pound terms for the same amount of tea.

To make matters worse, at the same time, a number of failed harvests have meant tea prices were already on the rise. This is adding to the pressure on manufacturers.

So far they have been swallowing the extra cost, but Tetley told The Grocer that it was getting to the point when it was going to have to look more closely at raising prices. And Yorkshire Tea said that unless it sees a recovery in the pound there will be a long term impact on the price.

What can you do?

The good news is that you can unwind any price rises by shopping around. Comparing teas is always difficult, because the priciest teas tend to be high end loose leaf teas, which are an entirely different beast to the stuff you get in bags sold as the nation's most popular brands.

However, if we just shop around for everyday brands, we can get some savings. If you were on the hunt for Tetley tea bags, for example, they are on offer at Tesco at the moment, so you can get 160 bags for the equivalent of 12.3p per 10 bags. At Asda they'd set you back 18.8p per 10 bags.

Similarly we can trade down to a supermarket own brand. Typhoo tea bags (160), for example, cost 21.9p per 10 bags from Tesco. Meanwhile the same number of Tesco bags would cost 12.2p, and the same number of Asda bags just 11.6p.

Finally, we can buy in bulk. If you were to buy 160 at a time, for example, then the supermarket own brand ranges, would cost between 11.8p and 12.2p per 10 bags. If you were to buy 240 that would fall to as little as 10.4p at Asda (which is currently on offer).

The proviso with buying more, of course, is that you need to make sure you store them in an airtight container, and get through them within a year to ensure they stay fresh enough.

Finally, don't just assume these basic rules of thumb are correct - you actually need to check the prices when you buy - is good for this sort of thing. Take Sainsbury's fair-trade Red Label tea, for example. It is charged at 11.9p per ten bags when you buy either 160 bags or 480 bags. However if you buy 240 bags you'll pay more - at 12.5p.

Some clever shopping around could bring the price of a tea bag down from more than 2p to as little as 1.04p. That way you can survive whatever tea price hikes are thrown at you, and still be better off.

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Shopping: when spending more isn't always better
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Shopping: when spending more isn't always better

The wine world is notoriously snobby, and the experts will tell you that there’s no way to buy a good bottle without spending at least £25. However, a study in 2011 at the Edinburgh International Science Fair demonstrated that people could only tell the difference between a cheap and expensive wine 53% of the time - which is roughly the result you'd get from flipping a coin.

Instead of focusing on price, it’s worth looking for wine awards. In December last year, for example, the International Wine Challenge awarded silver medals to Tesco Finest Fiano (selling for £5.49) and the Tesco Finest Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (priced at £5.99).

The price you’ll pay for your hotel room depends partly on type of room you choose, but also on a host of things that have nothing at all to do with the room itself. If you shop carefully, therefore, you can get more for less.

One of the most effective approaches is to use a ‘secret hotels’ service, which gives you details of the location and facilities, but doesn't tell you the name of the hotel you are booking until you have paid.

This enables hotels to slash their prices by as much as 50% without damaging their brand. If you book this way you can easily get a junior suite for less than the advertised double room rate at the same hotel.

Logically, the longer the interest-free period on your credit card, the more you’ll save. However, it doesn't always work out that way.

If you need to borrow for exactly the length of the interest-free period, then it’s a great option, but if you need to borrow for a longer or shorter time, it's a waste of money.

You have roughly a 40% chance of being tempted by the longer interest-free period into failing to pay off the debt in time - and being hit with high interest charges. In this instance, you may be better off with a long-term low rate.

Meanwhile, if you are one of the third of people who tend to pay off their card early, then you'd be better off paying a smaller balance transfer fee for a card with a shorter interest-free period.

If you need to buy new clothes, then choosing a product that has done minimal damage to the environment is clearly a kinder option than buying from a manufacturer that doesn't care about its impact on the world.

However, you will usually pay more for an environmentally-friendly brand, and there’s a far cheaper option that’s even kinder to the environment: buying second-hand clothes.

Your local charity shops will have items in perfect condition that would otherwise be going to landfill, so by buying them you meet three great criteria: you're saving the planet, saving money and helping a good cause.

You can pay anything up to 1,000 times more for water in a bottle than from the tap, so it stands to reason that it must be better.

However, instead of necessarily paying for superior water, we're paying for bottles, transportation and marketing, which might not be the kind of thing you value

On average we drink 33 litres of bottled water every year, and at an average cost of 48p per bottle, that's almost £16. You have to ask yourself if it's worth it.

Your expensive fashion headphones may look cool, but if you look around among the professionals, they won’t be wearing them.

The very best of the professional headphones cost the earth, so they're not a money-saving option. However, if you set a budget and check out the gadget magazines for their recommendations in your price range, not one of them recommends the fashion brands.

Instead of paying for branding, it's worth doing your research and paying for better sound.

We're loyal to brands for two reasons when it comes to medicines. The first is that they advertise, and they don’t mention the name of the active ingredient, so if we have a specific problem, all we know to ask for is the brand.

The second is a matter of trust, because we know the brand, and we can see it costs many times more than the generic versions of the same thing, so we trust that it is better.

In reality, the active ingredients are exactly the same, and if you don't know the generic drug that you can substitute for your expensive brand, you can simply ask your pharmacist - and look forward to spending a fraction of the amount your usual brand name medicines will set you back.

Pedigree pets are incredibly expensive. Even common breeds like springer spaniels will cost you several hundred pounds, while rarer breeds can set you back thousands.

It’s easy to assume you are paying for a well-bred pet, which will be free from medical problems. However, the breeding process means that pedigree pets tend to be prone to far more medical issues - which end up costing a fortune.

A mongrel dog or a moggy will often rack up far fewer vets bills, and there are usually an enormous number looking for new homes at the local rescue centre.

There’s an enormous advertising industry, pouring huge resources into convincing us that the more expensive beauty products are the best. In some cases this may be true, but it’s also worth keeping your eyes open for the cut-price beauty products recommended by the experts and winning awards.

A couple of examples stand out from recent coverage, including Boots Protect & Perfect for £23.95, which was so hotly tipped that it had a waiting list before its release in May last year. An even more affordable option is the £1.69 Bottle O’Butter moisturiser, which flew off the shelves thanks to an endorsement from the beauty press a while back.

Often in the mobile market, the more you pay, the more you get. So if you want a flash phone, all you can eat data, oodles of airtime and endless texts, you'll pay through the nose. The question you really need to ask yourself is whether you need all of this.

It’s worth checking your statements each month, and going back to look at them for the duration of your contract. Check your average use, then look at any extra you would have paid for the months when you went over this. In most cases, those who are paying for the very biggest mobile packages could save substantially by downshifting.


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