Prepare to get hammered … uh, squared off … hm, nailed … er, leveled … oh heck, let’s just get acquainted with a British-ism: builders tea. It’s one of those odd names like “toad in the hole” and “spotted dick.” A quick peek reveals something more familiar, such as “sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter” and “sponge pudding made with golden syrup, suet and raisins” respectively.

Steeped loose, of course! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Steeped loose, of course! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

What Is Builders Tea?

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 a bit of a snub to those who like their tea basic and tasty. Or some folks use it 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!

Builders Tea Competition

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. Recently, 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 to me like a time for a bit of a builders tea competition. Time to get started!

1 – Make Mine a Builders Tea; 2 – PG Tips; 3 – Typhoo (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

1 – Make Mine a Builders Tea; 2 – PG Tips; 3 – Typhoo (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

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.

  • PG Tips — Single estate teas from around the world blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters. The dry tea is a bit coarser and darker than the other two teas. Taste results: Strong yet smooth when served “builders style.”
  • Typhoo — The blenders taste up to 500 teas every day just to make sure that all the teas are consistently excellent in quality, flavor, and character. Taste results: Strong with that distinctive Typhoo difference, even when served “builders style.”
  • Make Mine a Builders Tea — Named after the phrase “Make mine a builders,” this tea is a blend of hand-picked teas from tea estates in Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. They steep up a strong color and body. Taste results: Slightly stronger flavor (and the dry tea is also more aromatic) that stands up very well served “builders style.”

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. Enjoy!

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