Top 8 tea bags tested

IN Ireland we drink about three kilos of tea each year, most of it made using teabags. Tea is big business, worth over €130m.

We may see coffee shops popping up all over the place, but we still consume about 60% of our caffeine in tea. 

We drink mainly black tea, made from the fermented leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant.

There are claims of health benefits which go from anti-cancer to healthy heart function due to its catechins which are flavonoids and antioxidants, said to kill free radicals and build up the walls of thin blood vessels.

Tea has even more antioxidants than many vegetables and fruits. 

Black and green teas contain a substance called theanine, which reduces stress and improves concentration. 

It also has small, but important amounts of vitamins E, K and B. 

Three cups a day seems to be necessary to achieve the list of benefits. 

On the downside, the tannins in tea can draw essential minerals, especially iron, out of the body and can also be a stomach/ulcer irritant.

Allow fresh water (not previously boiled) to come off the boil before adding to the cup or pot. 

Infuse for three minutes or until the desired strength. 

For the best taste, full-fat milk is recommended if not drinking it black.

For our survey we tasted with and without milk.

Marks & Spencer Rwandan Rukeri 125g €2.29 (4.5c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

50 tea bags in a foil bag within an attractive brown cardboard box was one of many good teas from this store. Full flavoured and bright with a lovely freshness, it was particularly smooth and good without milk with less bitterness and tannic notes than other samples. Milk reduced the flavour slightly and dulled the liveliness. Good for iced tea.

Score: 7.5

Lyons 232g €3.19 (3.9c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

80 bags from this Unilever company delivered a well-balanced tea for some tasters, but some thought is quite bitter when tasted black. Milk improved it considerably.

Note: We have been asked by Lyons to point out that; 

1. The price per bag is misleading because extra free fill packs are being compared with standard packs

2.   Lyons Original Blend was tested against Gold Blends in other cases.

Score: 5

Robert Roberts Organic 250g €4.50 (5.6c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

80 teabags in a box had a refreshing and lively taste, liked by most tasters, though one thought it had an unattractive dryness. It had good length with a bitterness not liked so much by those taking it black. Much better with milk. Certified organic, it is blended in Dublin

Score: 7

Twinings English Breakfast 125g €4.39 (8.7c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

50 tea bags had a lovely, soft, balanced flavour. One taster found it bitter but was satisfied when milk was added. Blended in England. Relatively expensive.

Score: 7

Bewleys Gold Blend 375g €3.29 (2.7c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

50% extra brought the number to 120 tea bags and made this a bargain price. However, the tasters found it tannic when tasted black, and lacking in flavour when milk was added. Blended in Dublin.

Score: 4

Barrys Gold Blend 313g €3.49 (3.4c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

No bitterness here in 100 teabags, and a pleasant drink enjoyed by all tasters, with and without milk. Blended in Cork.

Score: 7.25

Dunnes Original Blend 500g €3.49 (2.1c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

160 bags here had a slightly dry flavour, with some fruitiness which tasters liked, though it wasn’t a favourite of any taster. Good price.

Score: 6.25

Thompson’s Punjana 500g €6 (3.7c per bag)

Top 8 tea bags tested

160 bags here, and there was a huge difference in taking these black and with milk. None of the black tea tasters liked it, but milk softened the flavour. However, there was still a bitter after-taste.

Score: 6


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