So, I don’t actually drink tea or coffee. I know, I know. However, inconveniently I am also the coldest human in the world. I am always freezing, and if I had my choice I’d live in rooms heated to sauna levels. Whenever the uninitiated walk into our flat they are always horrified by how oppressively hot I keep it. This means that in air-conditioned offices, where other people get to set the temperature to average human levels, I have to wrap myself in a blanket to keep at a stage above hypothermia. Ideally I would be one of those people who sets up an IV drip of tea throughout the day. But I hate tea. It’s just like dirty water, I don’t get it. So occasionally, when it’s really grim, I resort to mint tea. Which is more bearable.

All of this, I realise, is a very bad way of starting off a Taste Test post about tea. What I am basically saying is that I don’t like tea and I am a bad person to recommend what type you buy. Look at it like this: I have no tea loyalty or preconceptions or ideas about what brands are good. It’s like a virgin tea palette. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them. Surprisingly, I was wrong.

Also, as you will see, the nutritional content table is basically non-existent this time. Because it’s pretty much just water. And the prices per 100g are really high because you never buy tea per 100g – a normal box is about 30g or something.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of tea or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which who had made product A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Mint Tea

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Mint Tea
per 100g
£
Twinings
3.10
Waitrose Moroccan Mint
7.90
Teapigs
10
Diplomat Aldi
1.25
Tesco
1.98
Sainsbury’s
1.90

A – Sainsbury’s – 3/10

  • Doesn’t actually taste much like mint. A little on the aftertaste, but not so much on the drinking. Also a little artificial and plastic-y. Leaves you with a not particularly pleasant toothpaste kind of feeling.

B – Teapigs – 6/10

  • Immediately smells more minty than A. This comes through on the taste – you have the tingle of mint on your tongue. Definitely more enjoyable but not exactly great.

C – Twinings – 7/10

  • A bit of a mint scent, though not as strong as B. However, more flavour on the taste – less just like water. A little more enjoyable.

D – Tesco – 7/10

  • A different smell to the others – slightly sweeter. A more rounded taste – less like mouthwash than some of the others. Probably my favourite.

E – Waitrose – 4/10

  • A very unusual smell, not in a particularly good way. Carries through on the taste. I really didn’t enjoy it.

F – Diplomat – Aldi – 7/10

  • Smells more like mint. Nothing to write home about, but probably one of the nicer samples overall. A standard mint taste.

Conclusions

So, I still don’t like tea, as you might be able to tell from the rather lacklustre tasting notes. Hey, I thought it was worth a shot.

All the tea samples looked very, very similar, but there was a surprising amount of variation in the smell and taste of each sample. I thought Twinings, Tesco, and Aldi were all decent enough samples – and you can see that there’s a real variation in price between those products.

However, what you’re really paying for here is style, design, and packaging, I think. I was handed the samples ready made, so I didn’t see the aesthetics of the thing. But the more expensive teabags came in fancy boxes and had more packaging, and had those teabag strings and things that stop you losing them in the mug. I think the more expensive brands are as much about the pleasure and ease of the tea ritual as anything else. So if that’s important to you then it might be worth taking into consideration. But… it’s not important to me. So I guess I’d just get the Aldi ones and be done with it. Or have a nice clean glass of water instead.