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


And hot. Or Capt. Picard will hunt you down.


Yeah it’s almost as if they’ve heard of tea, that it is transported in it’s inert state in these small perforated packages, they’ve deduced that it’s a hot drink because they know that iced tea is a thing so have come to the decision that it’s best to leave it to the weirdo who drinks the stuff to sort out the rest…


PG Tips doesn’t stand a long steeping. My wife prefers:

  • Pour hot water over it
  • Stir as you pour (she doesn’t actually do this when she brews, which is why she likes the tea I make her more, so keep that a secret between you and me Internet, ok?)
  • Stir 3 or 4 times
  • Remove the tea bag (suitable for someone cheap to reuse, or someone cutting down on caffeine, so if it is evening I’ll use it myself as I’m both cheap, and don’t want a lot of caffeine in the evening)

Five minute steeping won’t get you great tea from PG Tips. You get too many tannins, and the taste doesn’t stand up to it. (it still may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it pleasant)

On the other hand when I’m not avoiding full caffeine, or being cheap I brew myself Harney & Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. That I steep for 3 to 5 minutes. And if no one stops me, with two bags. I like it more then the PG Tips, but then again I’m a monster for adulterating tea with cinnamon.

So how long you brew depends on the tea and your tastes (both, not individually).


You prepare tea in a bizarre way. Half and half? 5 minute steep? Certainly you are free to prepare tea how you like, but if you have criticisms I’m not ready to accept them.


Psst… don’t tell anyone but… I still really like Constant Comment.

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice is like brewing three bags of Constant Comment at once.


Maybe it’s just ground Vans which had metal eyelets.

Also - I was too distracted by picturing a satanic ritual in my morning cup.


It is utterly bizarre for me to read this blogpost, and the comments thread.

I can’t get my head around why people on the isles really favour the low-end teas. It’s like celebrating very cheap chocolate, wine or cheese. Maybe you need to be brought up with it? Like Germans were with terrible sausages and “Toast Hawai”?

Also, keeping a cardboard box of tea for a long time, especially in the kitchen, will ruin the taste in any case. You wouldn’t do the same with ground coffee. Don’t do it with tea, either. Please. I beg you.


PG Tips is just the most intensively marketed, but it seems to me to just be floor sweepings in a bag and tastes accordingly horrible. I like Twinings every day tea and Sainsburys extra strong. And what is this US thing about adding cream? Cream in tea is an abomination, it needs semi-skim milk


because we drink an awful lot of it*, so it’s a needless expense to buy the good stuff just for every day use.

Also because we drink so much you don’t keep it sitting around. A box of 250 tea bags will barely last a month in my house.

*and despite us brits’ association with being tea drinkers, the Irish drink more per capita


For me adding milk to tea is an abomination that makes no sense. I get it with coffee (if the milk is heated to bring out those caramel type flavours) , though I would never drink it. With tea I find it sickening. Though obviously in India they often brew it with sweetened condensed milk which is of possible even more revolting to me.

I like some Barry’s tea, the equivalents in English mainstream brands didn’t do it for me. Could just be a childhood thing.

In general I drink earl grey, or Assam (we had a fake religion when we were kids named after an old tea chest in a friend’s house with “Assam orthodox tea” written on it), lapsang souchon the odd time, and rooibos when I want one without caffeine that my girls can share with me for an afternoon chat.


The Frisian national drink is also consumed in large quantities, and it’s completely affordable - and better than any of the stuff I now associate with the British or Irish.

Don’t get me a wrong: I sometimes like a cup of ctc. But that’s sometimes. My tea shelve is quite empty at the moment, and I’ve still got eight or ten different loose-leaves in store. And I don’t earn much money; in fact I struggle.

The amount of tea drunk is no excuse, in my opinion, to drink low-quality stuff. You can get decent tea for a good price.


I think that’s just a weirdness of language – when we talk about adding any sort of lightener (milk, half-and-half, cream, nondairy creamer) many people say “cream” as a generic term. Most Americans rarely have anything at home thicker than 2% or whole milk. Or Coffee-Mate.


Love Barry’s. Good stuff from Cork. A decent American alternative is Tetley’s British Blend. It’s a hearty tea.


Ladies? Really? Plenty of people, regardless of gender, believe in alternative medicine. And, plenty of women don’t believe in it, regardless of what they enjoy drinking.

I was nodding along, until your comment became unnecessarily gendered.


I haven’t tried a cinnamon tea, but Ahmad has a cardamom tea that’s my go-to work beverage these days - it’s extremely tolerant of abuse.

Oversteeped - still fine. Brewed with whatever random temperature warm water comes out of the coffee machine - still fine. Served with UHT milk - all good.

I have other teas I like better for home, but for work I need something I can easily brew at work


I don’t know, there’s something about it, the familiarity? Maybe it’s comforting? But there’s something about a mug of regular everyday tea. I’m a brit abroad and get people to bring me over bog standard boxes of the stuff. Of course there’s tea here and I enjoy different varieties. It’s not the cost, there’s just nothing like a nice unpretentious mug of tea that nothing else beats.

Maybe it’s a social thing, you can’t go wrong with it, “want a tea?” “sure”, “milk sugar?” Although I don’t know why anyone asks if you want milk because if you refuse it, you’ll get a funny look. It’s just done everywhere. It’s just not done to answer to tea, “yeah, sure, earl grey, lightly steeped with a splash of lemon.”.


Yes, at Tregothnan in Cornwall:

It’s delicious.


The Australian chain, T2 which is just opening stores in the UK, makes some lovely teas (their chai is especially good):


Carry over from tea’s association with the Brits and our early history drinking coffee as protest against the British Government and tea merchants.


No love for Tetley’s? I get the actual regular blend from the UK (not the fakey “British Blend” they sell in the U.S.). In the morning, I pop a couple bags in a pot, pour boiling water over it and let it steep while I shower. Put it in a mug with milk and two sugars, and you’ve got yourself breakfast.