The great tea-debate 2017 – the power of a “good cuppa”

This may (or may not be?) a very British post.  Along with many people around the world, I LOVE a nice “cuppa”!  I’m a firm believer in the power of a cup of tea….

  • Feeling sad? Cup of tea will sort that!
  • Friends round? Get the kettle on!!
  • Feeling cold? ohh a nice cuppa will warm you up!
  • Got a bit of a headache? That will be the caffeine withdrawal…its been at least an hour since your last cup of tea….!

Why all the fuss??

Today at work, we had run out of teabags.  I stopped off at the petrol station on the way to work to get us some.  It was one of those BP’s with a Marks and Spencer’s inside.  Consequently, we ended up, not with “Yorkshire Tea” as is (I’ve only just today learned!) the preferred tipple in my office, but with M&S English Breakfast tea. (Oh the horror!!)

BIG mistake! This tea, it turns out is substandard and doesn’t constitute a “nice cuppa” according to one of my friends at work…..

“tea is tea!” I was heard to say. (I accept that there are other types of tea, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, etc etc…When I refer to “tea” in this context I do of course mean your regular, “bog-standard” cup of tea….)

After looking totally outraged, he insisted that it really wasn’t and I really needed to get my head-checked if I thought it was.  He was completely outraged at the fact he was clearly working with someone with poor taste-buds… (OK, he may not have used exactly those words, but the tone of voice said it all…I may also have let my imagination run wild just a SMIDGE! hahaha!)

“GAME ON!” I said….!

After considering whether putting a “naked tea-bag” in my handbag to bring home and the potential for that bag tearing and ending up in the bottom of my handbag, for me to have to scrape out into a cup, along potentially with the crumbs from this lunchtime’s sandwich, all in an effort to prove him wrong for about a millisecond…(Competitive, Moi??!!)  I brought home one of these “substandard” bags home to compare with my personal tea-tipple of choice…..”Twinings”.

Before you start…I am aware that having a “favourite tea” does somewhat undermine my “tea is tea” argument, however having had a cup of the offending tea earlier and finding nothing offensive about it, I wonder if I am less discerning when it comes to tea….

Tea Experimentation….the set-up

And so the experiment is set…..

  • I have here 1 bag of “offensive” tea; and
  • 1 bag of “Twinings Everyday”

But if an experiment is worth doing, its worth doing properly….so, instead of just testing one on one, I’m also going to test against:

  • 1 bag of “Tetley decaf”; and
  • Some loose leaf tea (Twinings English Breakfast!)

Tea Experimentation…the rules

I initially thought that I should brew each for the same time and add exactly the same amount of milk…but I figured that wasn’t realistic, in reality I would make each cup of tea up to the right “colour…

Rule 1: therefore is that each bag/ pot will be brewed for the same time but I will add milk until they are the same colour.

Rule 2: I can’t possibly drink 4 cups of tea myself, so I have to wait for Mr JoCreates to get home from work!

Rule 3: tea does taste different in “china cup” or “mug”…This test will use “mug”…

Rule 4: If I can’t decide, I win, my friend at work is wrong…tea is tea! As head-judge, my vote is final!  This is quite an important rule, as I fully expect a sound rebuttal from him!

Tea Experimentation…GO!

Step 1: The line-up…if only i had matching mugs!!!


Step 2:  The brew…..I left for 2 minutes each cup to brew.


Step 3: The milking….added until they each were as close to the same colour as I could get.  I don’t want any judgement about my tea colour of choice please, its how I like it!!! haha!


Step 4: The taste-test….after letting them cool to the “acceptable tea-drinking window”

The Results

a) The loose-leaf tea needed a bit longer to brew really….the rest all look like an acceptable cuppa colour-wise.

b) The Twinings English Breakfast (loose-leaf tea), although needing longer to brew, also has the strongest taste

c) The decaf has a funny aftertaste, not sure if that’s just a feature of “Tetley” though?! – experiment 2, test against “normal” Tetley??

d) The Twinings Everyday (my tea of choice!) is a good cuppa!! 🙂

d) The “offensive” M&S tea….is also a good cuppa!!!!

The Conclusion!

1 – I’ve just wasted 30 minutes of my life comparing tea…!

2 – The good news is, you’ve only wasted 5 minutes of your life reading this post…and you never know, next time someone at work tells you that your tea isn’t good enough….you may be able to produce this (very scientific!) test as evidence that “tea is tea!!

3 – I’m not sure why I’m taking tea advice from someone who NEVER washes their mug (and I mean NEVER, EVER, to the point of him believing that the “chunks” that fall in from the coating on the mug add “flavour”!

4 – I need to go to the loo now as I couldn’t be bothered to wait for Mr JoCreates to get home (broke that rule, damn my impatience!) so have drunk  4 cups of tea!!! at least one was decaf!

That’s all from me for now!!!

Enjoy your next cuppa, whatever brand, colour or level of “caffeination” it has…I still maintain, a “good cuppa” is whatever you believe it to be!



30 Responses

  1. Thank you for this awesome post. I was reading avidly to find out the results and then just burst out laughing when I read your conclusions! Hope the caffeine overload of three cups of tea in one go doesn’t result in a sleepless night.

  2. I am that strange anomaly – a British person who doesn’t like tea. Imagine the horror I encountered when I lived in Germany and declared as much. They really couldn’t get over the fact that I don’t like coffee either!
    I was quite proud of myself recently though when a new friend automatically handed me a cuppa tea when I visited her. I managed to drink half of it! Give me a hot chocolate or just a glass of water any day!

  3. M-R

    I drink (nearly always) loose tea (occasionally same in teabags) called ‘Scottish Breakfast’ (
    described as “not for the faint-hearted”, but tasting like – well, TEA. 🙂
    Recently, to my horror, late-onset GORD has meant “Specific foods may alter the lower oesophageal sphincter pressure, and increase the risk of reflux. Some of these foods include coffee (with and without caffeine), tea {…}”, and I think I shall have to kill myself; for my coffee comes from a big espresso machine with matching grinder, and I am addicted to The Bean.
    Bottom line: being lectured about which teabags are better is one thing, but being told one isn’t to drink it at all is QUITE ANOTHER.
    Sighh …

      1. M-R

        Depends on how quickly (or not) my syptoms ameliorate, or I’ll be doing the same. I forgot to say that I really do admire your research: shows commitment, common sense, dedication and several other good qualities. Goodonyer !

  4. That made me laugh out loud – what a fun read! Actually I was also always a tea is tea person – until I started experimenting with tea around the world. Now I believe that some teas are really better. Tea bags are my least favorite – loose leaf is the best in my opinion (not scientifically tested though) and the differences are there more obvious than with tea bags. Maybe they just use the same leaf quality for bags and bag them up differently :P. Best tea I have tested (and brought home with me) so far: Kenyan black tea and Sri Lanka Golden Tips – last one is the terribly expensive but was worth the money. But the most important thing is always anyway: just enjoy your “good cuppa” 🙂

  5. Kath

    Well, I daren’t show the method of your experimentation to a certain other member of the work place kitchen, who would doubtless mention the lack of a control etc.
    As for ‘tea is tea’, sorry, it can vary wildly in taste and the amount of time it takes to brew. I’m firmly for loose tea, as you know, but only if it’s fresh. Tea bags use finely ground leaves so they brew more quickly but are the equivalent of pouring hot water on dust.
    Finally, I hope you used a proper tea pot. If you used one at work you could save a fortune on tea bags, everyone would enjoy their drink more and you’d run out less frequently 🙂
    I could go on……………

  6. WAHAY!!! Tea orgy! I’m known as a little teapot in these parts. I wish I’d known you were doing this – I’d have been over as fast as my 8 legs could scuttle me! Completely with you on the visitors thing. I wait to have tea if I know I have people arriving (the concept of tea growing in mythical wondrousness in my head – that tea is gonna be awesome after all this waiting!) and then I hospitably offer them tea as soon as their coats are decanted… and if they say “No thanks, I’m all right actually,”… well… I go into a sort of shock and don’t quite know how to continue the day. “What d’you mean, you DON’T WANT TEA?!” Brain does not compute. What sort of a weirdo is this?! How can I make tea just for me in front of them? So now I have to go without tea… THE HORROR! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    I might have to draw a cartoon about this now, as therapy for making me relive the trauma.

    I’m fine, honestly. I’ll just sit here quietly. I might have a cup of… aaaaargh…..

  7. I use loose tea whenever possible and reading the above thought that two minutes was not enough. I like my tea weaker than you so teabags are too strong anyway and with loose tea I can use just the right amount. My favourite is Assam: smooth and rich. Maybe you try experimenting with different origin teas.

  8. I completely agree that loose leaf tea is best, but Twinings is my brand of choice as well. I’ve never tried the “Everyday” blend, though, and must now go look it up. My go-to is the Twinings Irish Breakfast, or their decaf Engligh Breakfast in the evenings. Also, I think your “right” tea color is just perfect!

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