All Teas are Equal…

11 07 2020

… but some are more equal than others.

As a Yorkshireman living in BC, I drink gallons (sometimes quite literally) of tea a day. Being of Yorkshire, I’m always on the lookout for a good deal on prices, but need to balance it with quality and strength of the tea produced. Of late, Mrs E and I have noticed that Red Rose, and even Tetley branded teas have become a bit “meh”. The Red Rose tea is now sold in weird organic plasticy fibre mesh bags which I’m sure are better for the environment than the paper mesh, but make for a weaker brew.

Anyway, we recently ran out, so picked up a 216 bag box in the local supermarket. Red Rose brand. Owned by Unliver (as many brands in the food and household cleaning industries are). I think the price was around $13. Pretty much the going rate. It’s worth keeping one’s eyes open for when Tetley are on sale for around $10. Anyway, as we continued to shop, our meanderings took us down the “Asian cooking” aisle where all the currey pastes and powders are (from Sharwoods of Lancashire – proper authentic curry! 😉 ). Don’t ask me why, but on the top shelf, sat quite unassumingly were boxes of 216 Brooke Bond Red Label tea bags. For a mere $8 or so! Not on sale – that is their normal price.

Image Source: Wikipedia

As I kid I remember Brooke Bond PG Tips in the UK (suspect chimp TV ads anyone?), so the brand is well known to me and I had no issue buying the box, despite it being weirdly considered “Asian Speciality Food”. Do the shelf planners understand where much black tea comes from, I wonder.


My grandparents were big PG Tips drinkers and used to save all the cards they used to have in the tea boxes. You could get albums to stick them in. I particularly remember The Saga of Ships (set B22  from 1970) and The Race into Space (set B23 from 1971).


The Race For Space. Image Source: Brooke Bond Collectables

So, once I got home and had access to Uncle Google, I discovered that in fact Brooke Bond & Company was founded by Arthur Brooke, a Lancastrian in the late 1800s. In 1903, Brooke Bond launched Red Label in British India, and this is the tea we bought in our local Canadian supermarket as an “Asian Speciality Food”. By 1957, Brooke Bond was possibly the largest tea company in the world, with one third share of both the British and Indian tea markets. Something akin to selling coal to Newcastle, methinks!

The company was acquired by Unilever in 1984 and the Brooke Bond name was significantly downplayed by Unilever. However, the brand was reintroduced in 2019 in the UK after a 20 year absence.

Ironically, I found that in North America Brooke Bond’s primary product was Red Rose Tea! Red Rose is still sold by Unilever in Canada as I mentioned, but in the United States is now marketed by Redco Foods. Red Rose brand tea has been available in the United States since the 1920s, but their Original Blend is a different blend of black pekoe and cut black teas compared to the orange pekoe sold in Canada.

Image Source: Wikipedia

So, with not a little irony, I am prefering Unilever’s Brooke Bond sub-brand over Brooke Bond’s own Canadian sub-brand, despite the fact it was targeted for an Asian market and costs 2/3 the price. And – most importantly it is better tea! hopefully the word doesn’t get out too soon or they’ll put the prices up. Another irony is that Tetly’s tea – originally from Yorkshire – is now owned by TATA, a huge Indian conglomerate, so technically more deserving of being in the Asian Food aisle!

Anyway, must go now, the kettle’s just boiled…

EDIT: In case you wondered… PG Tips was originally marketed as “Digestive Tea”, implying that it could be drunk prior to eating food, as a digestive aid. It was renamed Pre-Gestee to sound more fancy and grocers and salesmen abbreviated it to PG.

Tea and Women

17 06 2020

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt (Maybe)

Pyramid Power

23 07 2014

Only the English (well, Tata from India and Anglo-Dutch Unilever) could go to court over tea bags!

The flat capped Yorkshire (Indian?) tea folk lost to PG Tips’ “superior” brewing pyramids.

So it goes.

PG Tips triumphs as ASA rules pyramid teabags make better cuppa | Business |

A cup of cha – via The Guardian

Just Deserts (Part 5 of n)

12 04 2014

It’s tax season! And we all know what that means, right? Yup… find any excuse possible to avoid knuckling down and getting on with it.

I just spent a couple of hours in the garden (way harder than just getting on with the tax forms, but logic is not a factor here). The mower fired into life at the second pull – a minor miracle all in itself.

I take what might be called a minimalist approach to my garden. Three mows a year on average. Once when the daffodils I planted in the lawn have finished flowering (they’ve been annoyingly coming up “blind” for the last few years just to spite me); once towards the end of the spring rains because the grass frustratingly seems to like that, and insists on growing – and therefore needing to be cut; and finally once towards the autumn because then it looks reasonable over winter. Our summers are largely dry, and by accepting an “au naturel” yellow/brown lawn, I avoid it growing and therefore needing cutting. If anyone asks, I say it’s a water conservation measure. We’re metered, so it’s not entirely untrue.

Now the back lawn is cut though (the daffodils, though blind, are not yet over in the front lawn), I need a new excuse to avoid my taxes. So – I thought I’d tell you a bit about our next desert adventure. There’s a bit of a side-story regarding “the van”, but I’ll save that until another post.

The day after we had our minds blown by Antelope Canyon, we left Page en route for Moab, Utah. This caused no end of amusement with time. We’d moved from Pacific (Nevada) to Mountain (Arizona) time… but Arizona doesn’t “do” daylight saying, so we hadn’t actually changed the clocks. As we moved North to Utah though, we would advance the hour necessary to be in Mountain Time because Utah was much more conventional. But there was a twist… we were heading first to Monument Valley, which is a Navajo region and spans the AZ/UT border, and collectively does recognise daylight saving. As in “Hey – have we met? Aren’t you daylight saving?” The entrance road to the valley is in Utah, but the road heads SE back into Arizona… or would except it’s Navajo land. So – although the visitor centre is in Arizona, it’s Navajo land, so has the same time as Utah because of daylight saving. Following?

The day began with an unusual shower though. I’m no stranger to business travel. I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica. Stayed in all manner of hotels. Never though, in my entire life, have I ever encountered a shower with TWO heads. The reason defies me. Perhaps Janus was a frequent visitor in earlier times…

Breakfast was noteworthy too. I ambled into the buffet area to gather my usual holiday fare of scrambled eggs and dubious meat. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a child dropping something from her plate. She moved to pick it up, and her mother yelped, telling her it was dirty now, and to leave it alone. The girl was nearer 14 than 3. As I moved closer I saw it was in fact an individual pack of tomato ketchup – still sealed. As I considered my own immune system to be capable of handling the situation I stooped and threw it in the nearby waste bin. I was then given what is referred to in North America as “stink eye” by the aforementioned mother.

It was another bright but crisp morning. 7°C as reported by out trusty steed’s temperature gauge. As we headed east, back towards Antelope Canyon, I remembered to take a photo of the thee chimneys of the NGS. This had been mysteriously marked on the map with just those three letters, but turned out to be a coal-fired power station – the Navajo Generating Station. Built originally in the 1970s it has been regularly upgraded to maintain the highest levels of air quality. Having been brought up in Yorkshire, I was well used to seeing the grey discharge from coal-fired power stations such as Ferrybridge. This was nothing like it, with what appeared to be pure steam being discharged and quickly dissipating into the otherwise crystal clear skies. The only puzzle was why it was needed… so close to the hydro dam at Page.

The road to Monument Valley – literally straddling the Utah border – was unbelievably quiet, and we were there by noon. The visitor centre is raised above the valley, and the initial view is just jaw-dropping. We felt the need for a nice cup of tea before we embarked on the adventure “proper”, so went into the centre. I was a bit disappointed by all the usual tat being sold. To me it actually devalued rather than celebrated the rich Navajo culture. I was however surprised when I asked for tea. I was asked whether I wanted “regular” or “Navajo” tea. Having been given the opportunity, I didn’t hesitate to ask for the Navajo version. It was not unpleasant. More of a minty/herby taste. Refreshing for sure. Turns out it’s actually made from greenthread leaves, found locally. Nothing else added.

From the car-park you can see some of the “classic” buttes of Monument Valley – The Mittens are instantly recognisable for example, as is Merrick’s Butte – an almost cubic formation. After a lengthy debate and some analysis of the types of cars entering the valley (and the condition of the ones exiting), we decided we’d take our very unremarkable Ford Focus on the 17 mile dusty track through the valley. Very glad we did – it was spectacular. No doubt it would have been more comfortable – and potential safer – in our own Honda Pilot, but that was a few thousand kilometres north in BC at the time! Mrs E was driving and managed to avoid the worst of the potholes and mini-cliffs along the dirt road. We didn’t bottom out once, and the sump is as good as the day we picked up the car. It’s fair to say though that it was a little dustier when we returned it to Budget a few days later…

We were armed with the free map of the valley which unfortunately only named the more imposing features. Some of them had names that were definitely a stretch. Camel Butte for example was a definite “squint at it just right…” example, whereas “Elephant Butte” was a little more aptly named. We probably spent about 4 hours there altogether. The time flew!

Once we were back on our way to Moab, we passed Mexican Hat which is a small town straddling a deep gorge. It’s named after a balancing rock that does in fact look not unlike a sombrero. We were a few days into our desert trip now, but no less in awe of the continual changes in the landscape. A constantly changing palette of yellows and reds met our eyes both in soils and rock. As we got north to Monticello, we passed Church Rock which looked like nothing so much as a blancmange. I was so intent on getting a decent shot of it as we sailed past on the road that I completely missed the fact that on the west side of the road was Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument – a site of incredible petroglyphs.

We were definitely getting weary as we came into Moab – our destination for the night. We knew nothing about the place, and entering from the South we all initially had the definite impression it was “sketchy”. A long drawn out line of semi-industrial units, car repair shops and less than salubrious motels. We were crossing our fingers that our home for the next couple of nights would not be nearby. Luckily it was actually right through town and on the northern side. Downtown Moab is actually quite reasonable, but you could tell it depended almost entirely on the transient climbers, kayakers, mountain bikers and assorted other thrill seekers. This also explained why the rooms were disproportionately expensive compared to our other stays. Once settled in, we headed into town to forage. I couldn’t help but snigger at “Eddie McStiff’s” which reminded me of a bar my eldest daughter sometimes frequents in Toronto – Philthy McNasty’s.

In the end, we settled on Twisted Sistas’ Cafe where we were well fed and enjoyed a very pleasant evening before turning in… ready for the jewel in the crown. The last desert experience of the trip.

To be continued…



Hanger Tea – Teabags Packaging by Soon Mo Kang » Yanko Design

22 12 2012

Hm – now I know I’ve shared stuff from Yanko Design before, but this one has EVERYTHING!

Like all good design, it actually solves a problem. In this case that issue of where to put your tea bag when it’s provided enough flavour and you don’t want to turn your drink bitter. (Of course – I wasn’t even aware of this issue before I moved to Canada. In the UK you’d make tea in a proper tea pot, even if it was only for one cup. Here, it’s often the case that the bag is placed directly in the cup).

Anyway, the problem, as well as being solved, is being solved with WIT. WIT always gets my attention. A little clothes rack to hang your hangers on. Classic. Love it. But there’s more! Word play. The bags are in the shape of (wait for it…) “Tea-shirts”! Brilliant!

Hanger Tea – Teabags Packaging by Soon Mo Kang » Yanko Design.

Tea-time – Tea Steeper Design by Pengtao Yu » Yanko Design

5 12 2012

I like this idea. A solution for a couple of common tea issues. How to avoid your tea getting over-stewed and how to make a single cup with loose leaves without the hassle of making a full pot.

Tea-time – Tea Steeper Design by Pengtao Yu » Yanko Design.

Boredom and lavender

9 11 2012

So I’ve been grumpy of late. I used to be Doc, but the suit doesn’t fit any more, and I always thought Sneezy was a bit of a hypochondriac.

I had a drink with an old work colleague last night, and he shared the news that his wife is due to have a baby. As a father of three myself (“one of each” as I like to quip), I commiserated with him, and we had a pleasant evening “shooting the shit” as is the male preference on such occasions.

But in all seriousness, this was great news, and it made me realise how much I’ve been missing my old colleagues from my previous job. Not that my new colleagues are bad, you understand. I just haven’t reached that “depth” with them yet.

Luckily when I got home I was cheered up by my self-administered cure. I’d recently engaged in web-retail therapy, and my brand new “toy” had arrived. I was now the proud owner of my first red-lined Canon lens. Yup I own an L-series 100mm macro lens. So now what?

Well – like a kid with a new bag of marbles, I just had to start taking pictures. Of anything. Anything at all. Several times. Even if it complained. Or in the case of the dog – growled. As with any new lens, it’ll take me a while to get the best out of it. Well – the best I can get out of it that is!

For now, I used it as an excuse to get out my tripod, my remote release (no – that’s not a sex toy), and take photos of random detritus – a surprising amount of which seems to inhabit our house. And then I remembered the lavender tea my number two offspring had asked me to buy on our summer trip to Victoria. Mmm… I can almost smell it from the photo. Or maybe it’s on my fingers. Or in my head. I’m still on the hunt for things to photograph up close and personal. Perhaps a piece of Wedgewood next…

The downside became apparent as I looked through my “test images”. The dog! Her shed hair is EVERYWHERE, and at these resolutions you can see it in the most surprising places – like in a pine cone! Still getting used to the depth of field (as with any new lens), but here’s my first attempts…

Cool or naff?

16 10 2012

There’s a fine line between being cool, innovative and original… and just being, well… lame!

Think of snuggies, for example. So I came across Suck UK. I have to be honest and admit that there are indeed some items in the Christmas cracker/dollar store region of the naff-o-meter. But some of the other stuff is downright inspired.

For example “The Flower Grenade”. What a concept! Pre-loaded with seeds and growing medium. In a natural clay “grenade”. What a great way to have fun planting wild flowers… or breaking your neighbour’s window.

Every product from SUCK UK

My favourite of course was in pursuit of the perfect tone of tea…

Every product from SUCK UK

Every product from SUCK UK

Every product from SUCK UK.

Advice on how to prepare tea like a Englishman (sic)

10 10 2012

First born is having a rare old time as a co-op student in Switzerland at the moment.

As far as I can tell she is making good use of my educational dollars and getting drunk and/or laid quite regularly. (At least she is evasive enough in answering my questions that I am simply forced to draw such conclusions.) She recently went on a road trip to MĂŒnchen to the Oktoberfest… I am so jealous. Good on ‘er! Life is the best education anyone can have.

Me embarrass her?! It’s character forming…

All I can say is it’s a good job my own parents weren’t such shameless libertarians… I’d probably never have left University with a functioning liver.

Anyway, one of her “friends” (wha’?!) passed on this little titbit, which she thought I’d appreciate. I did, and despite the appalling English in the title, I thought you might too, so here it is… a tongue in cheek description of making “English” tea.

Thaddiousz comments on LPT Request: Advice on how to prepare tea like a Englishman.

Of course, bits of it are deadly serious… like the bit on sugar. Although, I have to say that I know at least one less-than-abhorrent sugar taker. Perhaps their family often falls victim to swan attacks… just sayin’!

BBC News – London 2012: 12 more British quirks in 212 words for 2012 visitors

3 08 2012

I’ve done well so far to ignore the Olympics back in the Old Country. Couldn’t resist this spin-off project on Aunty Beeb though.

“What is Britain?” in 212 words…

Tea anyone?

BBC News – London 2012: 12 more British quirks in 212 words for 2012 visitors.