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

Barry's is Ireland's finest cheap black tea in a bag. Folks seems awful fond of PG Tips and someone brought me a box.

I've been drinking Barry's for a couple years. I used to prefer coffee but switched to tea when I realised I couldn't handle the end of day burnout that for me comes with steadily drinking coffee all day. Barry's is the cheap tea that makes it all possible.

A cute box of PG Tips has been sitting in my kitchen. PG Tips bills itself as "England's No. 1 Tea," vs Barry's claim of being "Ireland's finest." I'd tried PG Tips and didn't find it memorable, so the box got put on a shelf.

This morning, as I was reaching up to grab a bag of Barry's, the box of PG Tips came tumbling down. As if begging to be tried. I decided I didn't want to start my day off with bad tea and brewed both.

I took two identical mugs and put a bag in each. Barry's comes in a proper dirt cheap looking tissue paper bag that somehow doesn't disintegrate in the hot water. PG Tips comes in a pyramid shaped bag reminiscent of the tricorn battle hats worn by our former tea taxing overlords, or perhaps Hamen.

At the moment of contact with boiling hot water, both teas looked similar. 5 minutes of steeping later, however, the difference was immense. Barry's had formed a deep black mass. Staring into a cup of Barry's is something one should save for days when they are most solidly rooted in their reality, as you do not know whose eyes may stare back. PG Tips was kinda golden.

Barry's is strong and tastes like black tea. Produced since 1901, this tea has a malty mouthfeel and blends well with half-and-half and sugar, which is how I take my morning tea. If I want black tea without the trouble of cleaning out a teapot, Barry's is that tea.

One the other hand, PG Tips tastes weakly of old cardboard and has a distinctly metallic tang. I imagine jolly old English folk shredding a Vans shoebox, and adding the tiny metal flakes generated when stripping the screws of a children's toy battery box cover. PG Tips does not so much blend with half-and-half and sugar as color them and left me with a creamy, sweet cup of metallic tasting hot water. PG Tips claims to have first been produced in 1930. I guess 29 years means a lot.

Enjoy the tea you prefer.

Barrys Gold 80 Bags 2pk via Amazon

PG Tips Black Tea Pyramids, 80 Count via Amazon

Notable Replies

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

  2. Tea with milk, though, is how it's done.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. Paddy says:

    Another Irish tea you should try is Lyon's Gold Blend, it's the "other" tea here

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