Tea Tuesday: Strong Hot Tea Even in Summer

Tea strength preferences vary from tea drinker to tea drinker, with some liking a lighter taste in their tea and others liking that stronger one. Some are driven by the season. In hot weather, a lot of folks here in the U.S. go for teas with a lighter taste served over ice and often heavily sweetened. In cooler weather or when those Summer storms erupt, we might huddle indoors and sip strong hot tea from a mug held in both hands to warm them. But some go for that strong hot tea for the quick jolt it can give even in hot weather. Sounds great!

A lot of well-known tea brands seem to have a version of their tea that is blended to steep up an extra strong potful. And some, such as Builders Tea, are blended up strong all the time. Of course, you don’t need a special “strong” blend to get a strong hot tea. Just use extra dry tea and steep a minute or two longer (it might get a little bitter, though). These blends are meant to give you extra strong flavor without the possibility of that extra bit of bitterness.

Click on each image to get more details on each tea:

Which tea is stronger?

The British-ism “builders tea” is one of those odd names the British have for food and beverages, like “toad in the hole,” “bubble and squeak,” and “spotted dick.”

Basically, “builders tea” is a term to describe a strong cuppa black tea with milk and sugar. It is part of the growing trend in Britain toward more specialty teas, with the term “builders tea” being used by some folks to show how “unsnobby” they are about their tea. Oddly enough, folks working in the building trade have begun switching to coffee, and tea drinkers on a budget, who used to drink premium teas, are returning to builders tea. And the world of tea spins round and round!

There is quite a debate out there on which tea brand makes the best builders tea. However, everyone seems to agree that steeping that tea strong and adding the right amount of milk and sugar (or other sweetener) is the way to go. A few years ago, a brand has appeared on the market actually called “Make Mine a Builders Tea” — what chutzpah! Claiming a whole style of tea as their own brand. Sounds like it’s time for a bit of a builders tea competition.

The Contenders:

Click on each image to get more details:

We used the tea dust from three bags in two cups of boiling water and steeped for five minutes. (We know that a certain tea guy recommends steeping black teas only 2-3 minutes, but…) Then, we added milk and sweetener and the tasting began.


Taste results:

  • PG Tips — Strong yet smooth.
  • Typhoo — Strong with that distinctive Typhoo difference.
  • Make Mine a Builders Tea — The strongest flavor (and the dry tea is also more aromatic) that stands up very well. The clear winner.

There you go. Three cuppas, good and strong and hot, for when you’re done building that railroad or skyscraper or maybe just a modest dollhouse or backyard fort. But Make Mine a Builders tea is the clear champ. No wonder those other brands have created their “strong” versions. Enjoy!

© 2016-2020 A.C. Cargill photos and text


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