Friday, 28 March 2014

Review: Yorkshire Tea

The first thing you need to know about Yorkshire Tea is that it's not actually from Yorkshire. If, like me, you were expecting, nay, hoping, for a vast, Eden Project-esque biome covering the North York Moors, filled with tea fields, you will be disappointed. The name is purely a branding exercise exploiting the fact that the company selling the tea was founded by a Swiss man who opened a tea shop in Harrogate, which, for our foreign readers, is in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is in England, which is part of Great Britain, which is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is mostly situated on the British Isles. While the brand itself has been around for a while, it started advertising fairly vigorously about five years ago, and has been getting product placement from TV shows and celebrities and so on, which is odd, for tea. But then, so is trying to market 'Yorkshireness' as a desirable commodity.

But enough preamble. What's the tea like? Well, to answer that I probably ought to tell you a little about my tea-drinking preferences; in areas of taste there's almost no objective handle to be found, and so one must understand the subjective biases of the reviewer in order to parse and render their opinions. I am a Strong Tea man. I like my elements so mixed that a spoon might stand up in them. However, I am also a man of Taste. No PG Tips or Tetleys for me. 'But those are strong teas!' I hear you cry. Yes, they are. But, just as one can desire strong alcohol without wanting to drink prison lavatory wine, one can like strong tea without wanting PG Tips. It is not that it is too strong for me; it is that it is unbelievably shit. When I drink a gin and tonic it is mostly gin, but it is good gin. So, strength and refinement, that's me. If I weren't engaged this would probably make an excellent dating profile.

My spirits were raised, then, when I looked at the side of the box and saw that it recommended a full five minutes of brewing time. 'This', I said, filling the teapot, 'is a tea that demands to be strong'. I was wrong.

Yorkshire Tea is incredibly bland. The five minutes brewing time is recommended because if you gave it any less you'd be drinking a mug of hot, grey, diluted milk. It's not that the taste is unpleasant - quite the opposite - it's just that there's very little of it. And, bizarrely, it's not a question of concentration. I tried two bags, then three; then leaving it for ten minutes, then fifteen; then stirring - and it didn't make the slightest bit of difference. No matter how strong you make it, the flavour never really manifests itself.

It's driving me a little bit mad. I bought a several-thousand-bag chest of it from Tesco because they were out of everything else, and now I haven't had a proper cup of tea for weeks. I'm drinking it as fast as I can, but that just makes it worse, because the cravings keep getting stronger and stronger. I'm currently editing a fifteenth-century manuscript due in for Wednesday, and I'm staying up all night to get it done, and I haven't had anything to drink for so long and I really need it and GIVE ME A GOD-DAMN CUP OF TEA I WILL BURN THIS PLACE TO THE GROUND


  1. Apparently, it has to be made with Yorkshire Water as well. My husband (a strong-tea-drinking Yorkshireman) says that tea made with our local water (Newcastle) just doesn't taste right.

    (Also, did you mean Harrogate? Harrowgate is in Darlington somewhat further north!)

    Best wishes,

  2. I noticed that they had a 'Hard Water' version on sale, but being a pampered southern Londoner I didn't think to get it. Having said that, Yorkshire water does tend to be rather softer, so maybe that's what I'm doing wrong.

    Also, yes, I did mean Harrogate (cf. pampered Londoner). I've fixed it now - thanks!