Ireland and England’s ‘best’ teas, reviewed by an American


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/20/tea-barrys-vs-pgtips.html


#2

Does any tea actually come from the UK? I wonder if it says who grows this for them.


#3

Apparently yes, just not on a large scale level.

Winston Churchill wanted to have tea plantations in England during WW2, in case supplies were cut off.


#5

Heathen! PG tips is one of the best every day teas, and cream? Only old ladies drink cream teas, milk mate.


#6

That’s the great part of having an empire. You can put the plantations where they will be most effective.


#7

PG Tips is not England’s best tea, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s no.1 in terms of sales. Not the same thing!

It’s worth considering that all teabags are not equal - some are intended for brewing a pot, some just a cup. I’m not absolutely sure which you were comparing. I go for the full-weight bags when making a cup, but don’t brew for a full 5 mins.

I go for Sainsbury’s Red Label (i.e. supermarket own brand) at home and Yorkshire Tea at work. But I’m not at all fussy: I drink a lot of tea (typically three in the first hour of the day, hourly in the morning then two-hourly until 23:00ish), rather than an infrequent cup to savour.

And tea with cream is just wrong.


#8

Tea with milk, though, is how it’s done.


#9

Half and half, actually. I edited it for you.


#10

You over steeped the PG Tips. It’s a much lighter tea than Barry’s so it doesn’t hold up quite as well at 5 minutes in water that hot. That’s where metallic and bitter, carboardy or buttery flavors come in. Try it with cooler water or a shorter steep, I use 3 minutes as my baseline for most teas.


#11

As a black coffee only USA person, I can’t stand milk or any kind of dairy product in tea.

I like my tea unadulterated, and from what I understand tea isn’t commonly consumed in the UK without some kind of dairy product.


#12

Try Earl Grey with lemon, then.


#13

Yep.

A stick of cheddar might be pushing things a little.

I get the impression that tea is either (or both) of two things in the USA:

  • A ‘delicacy’ - whereas tea is a staple in the UK. An everyday tea in the UK, drunk in bulk, mightn’t stand up to careful consideration of an individual cup.
  • A mystery - how else could one explain being presented with a cup of hot (not boiling) water on a saucer also containing the dry tea bag?

#14

Tips are buds and always have a more subtle flavor than straight-up black leaf. They can make for a more complex tea, but they neither store nor steep as long. It takes good plants and careful processing to get both malty depth and tippy complexity in the same tea, meaning it is not going to come at supermarket prices. On the cheap, a CTC/builder’s tea is always the better option. A really good tippy Assam will still have a strong enough flavor profile that a little sugar and milk will bring out rather than obscure its flavors.

(sad that I am currently too poor for ANY worthwhile tea…)


#15

Assam is best tea.


#16

More or less correct. But there are so many immigrant communities from cultures where tea is the default that you’re never far from a place where tea is simply normal. However the tea on offer at most venues outside of those immigrant communities is rotten. The lowest rent, powdery, bullshit tea intended for making iced tea (Americans drink plenty of tea its just packaged and cold). So tea drinkers seldom drink tea anywhere they aren’t making it themselves here.

And among those who never have to deal with anyone unlike them selves tea is effeminate and elitist. And some how a sign of being afraid of caffeine. Which is why a god awful amount of the tea on our store shelves is berry, herbal, wellness explosion and contains nothing in the way of actual tea. In large part tea is for ladies who believe in Alt Med in this country.


#17

With global warming that may soon be a reality.


#18

I’m genuinely baffled at the image of black-tea-drinkers in the US as being both effeminate and upper-crust, but it’s absolutely true. For a man to choose a cup of tea over a cup of coffee is almost seen as cosplay. “Tea? Haha, okay, Harry Potter! Pip pip! Expecto teacuppum!”

Whereas iced tea is the default drink in summertime.


#19

agreed. supermarket own brand assam is my daily tea these days (I tried some twinings and, while nice, is not so much better to justify the higher price)


#20

Another Irish tea you should try is Lyon’s Gold Blend, it’s the “other” tea here


#21

But being a man is cosplay!

I hadn’t noticed the tea-drinker’s image issue so much, but the NE/NY area it seems does often come off as elitist and old-world anyway.