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English bagged tea VS loose leaf

Hi everyone!

I got into tea only a few years ago, I wasn’t raised on it or anything like that. I’m from Canada and the only people I know who drink it are young people like me buying loose leaf from Davidstea. That means I started right up with loose leaf and never really explored bagged tea options. I was always told loose leaf was better so I thought why bother?

But then I joined Steepster and I realized a lot of british people seem to appreciate their classic brands of bagged black teas like Yorshire gold or PG tips. I can imagine them to be very strong since people seem to like adding milk and sugar to them. But do they have more to them in terms of flavour? Can they compare to loose leaf in their own way? I wonder if it would be worth it for me to try some of them. I would probably have to order them over internet and that can become quite expensive.

I am a coffee drinker and sometimes I am in the mood for a tea that has a “similar” flavour profile to it. I have tried some loose leaf assam and kenyan teas and I like them but I sometimes wish they were even stronger (or just darker?) as they turn a very unappetizing colour when milk is added to them. Should I try some english bagged teas in those times or just make myself a cup of coffee?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and I’d love to hear your opinions :)

10 Replies

Try some ripe/shu pu’er for a nice, strong cup similar to coffee. Every coffee drinker I’ve showed these teas to love it!
A personal favorite is Mandala Tea’s Special Dark http://shopmandalatea.com/ripe-pu-er/loose/special-dark.html even with a 30 second steep you’re getting a rich cup. 5 minutes? Whoa!
I’d also check out a roasted mate blend, those can be similar to coffee.

You can always experiment with going a little heavier on the leaf with your loose black teas or adjusting steeping times.

ifjuly said

super agree with this. special dark is like the most intense chocolatey espresso ever. delicious (just remember to do a quick prerinse with pu erh!). apparently it can take milk too.

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sandra said

I used to be a coffee drinker, but had to let that go due to health issues, and went to find a strong black..
My fave espresso like tea is an assam BOP. Another fave is Assam Doomur Dullung CTC, that brews stronnnngggg… yummie.
maybe that is an option for you. (or an Irish breakfast loose leaf.)

You may also try Ostfriesen tea (Frisian tea) which is a nice very strong cup.

If you prefer to stick to black, try:
CTC teas (round granulates)
Broken assam (brews stronger)
Irish breakfast

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ifjuly said

i can’t remember offhand, but i know some brisk black blends include chicory, which reminds me of coffee (cafe du monde!). that might be an avenue to pursue as well.

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Bagged teas sold here in Britain (PG tips, Yorkshire, Tetleys etc) tend to be stronger than those sold internationally. I tried a variety of black teas whilst in America but compared to what I’m used to they were very weak. Drinking bagged tea with milk and sugar is actually an Indian method that we have since adopted since the 1700’s, so it’s not particularly because it’s stronger but rather a cultural habit.

Other than being stronger I wouldn’t say that bagged has more flavour over loose leaf. I’ve never been a coffee drinker so I can’t advise on how English bagged tea would compare to your average cup of coffee, but I’m always willing to send you some bagged teas. If I don’t have it on hand I can go to my local shop and buy it, and I guarantee shipping will be cheaper if I do it. I like to think I have a good standing on Steepster :)

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ifjuly said

also, i don’t know how appropriate this is here or not but…if you’re dying to get some pg tips and other basic bagged british tea like, i don’t know, say whittard of chelsea, i’d be up for mailing you some of mine provided shipping was affordable (i haven’t swapped yet with a canadian, not sure what the rates are). if that’s not appealing, i suggest going to hoity toity grocery stores and also randomly, ethnic community (i hate using that term, but i don’t know what to use instead) grocery marts and convenience marts. you might be surprised at what overseas teas you can find (i found pg tips eventually in the kosher section of kroger of all things, also at the mexican emporium grocery store way out, yeah don’t ask why ‘cause i don’t know! ha).

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With the growing popularity of tea, brands like PG, Barry’s, Thompson’s Punjana and Yorkshire tea can be seen fairly frequently in better and sometimes quite ordinary US supermarkets. I’d be surprised if they weren’t in Canadian ones as well.

My guess is that the strength and caffeine come from the fact that tea bags contain lots of teas from Kenya, Indonesia and other places which have devoted themselves to large scale, lower end tea production. And the fact that being in bags, they are CTC teas.

If you want stronger tea, just add more Kenyan and Assam teas (especially the cheaper lower quality that while loose are barely a step up over CTC). And brew longer. And as ifjuly, mentioned, try shopping in ethnic neighborhoods. Any place (at least in the US) with larger East Asian or Indian communities or small local Halal stores will have boxes of cheap, strong black tea leaves. And also bagged teas of similar strength, Often they will have export versions of common teas too.

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Katiek said

Not a coffee drinker, but have you ever looked at TeaBean – white coffee tea infusion? It is a “tea” made with baked coffee beans and the company was founded in Canada. I’ve bought it as a gift for some friends who liked it. It isn’t like a strong English tea, but it has a unique coffee profile.


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Thanks a lot to you all for the suggestions, I’ll definitely check them out! I’m not really in the mood for searching the entire city to get some bagged teas, but if anyone is interested in swapping a few bags it could be fun. Feel free to PM me if you find anything interesting in my cupboard (except my teas from Teavivre because I only have samples).

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Ooooh good english tea. PG Tips. Typhoo. Twinings Everyday Blend.

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