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Best tea brands: the best tea bags for Great British brews

There is nothing better than a cup of tea and these are the best tea brands.

Best tea brands: the best tea bags for Great British brews
Danielle de Wolfe
20 February 2023

Is any drink more tied to a national identity than tea is to the UK? Whether you like a strong cup of English Breakfast, tend to start the day with an Earl Grey or have moved onto caffeine-free herbal infusions, there's a place for tea in all of our hearts. Right?

However, maybe it's time to try something new. We're looking at some of the best, and best-known, tea brands to give you a springboard to explore the wider world of tea. Vote for your favourite to give other readers a steer.

UPDATE:We have added a couple of the most-recognised names in tea to our best tea brands guide, although one you are more likely to know for its tea-infused cold drinks than for its English Breakfast teabags. However, it's proof of which how diverse a drink tea really is.

Recent years have seen our nation’s drinking habits change dramatically. According to a report by Mintel, 37% of 25-34 year-olds drink 5-6 different kinds of tea a month, suggesting variety really is the key of life. A separate study conducted by National Tea Day revealed 80% of brands noted the current ‘health and wellness’ trend as something that has changed our buying habits.

From potent fruit concoctions to punchy black-tea hybrids, these brands have it all in terms of variety, quality and ethical principles. Upvote the one that earns a place in your kitchen cupboard.

Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

1. Yorkshire Tea

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Yet another northern brand with a long tea-brewing history, Yorkshire Tea began life back in 1886 in Harrogate, England. Originally blended by Charles Taylor and his two sons to suit the Yorkshire water, the company remains family owned to this day. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Yorkshire Tea officially brewed its first cup under the brand name.

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Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

2. Twinings

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Originally from Gloucester, the Twinings family moved to London in 1684 to grow its empire. It is one of the oldest tea brands around. Twinings tea dates back to 1706 when it purchased Tom’s Coffee House on The Strand, its first premises.

Twinings was all about challenging the flavour status-quo. From its quintessential English Breakfast blend to its mouthwatering cold infusions, the brand now grace kitchen cupboards across the country.

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A household name, PG Tips was created by Arthur Brooke, who opened his first tea shop in Manchester in 1869. Originally called ‘Pre-Gest-Tea’ in 1930 before being abbreviated to the PG Tips we know and love today.

The name highlights that PG Tips only uses the top two leaves and bud of each plant to create its blend. Its distinctive, fresh flavour, inspired by the tea gardens in Kericho. The brand’s first tea bag was created in 1960 and it has never looked back, with the introduction of their unique pyramid tea bag as recently as 1990.

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Strangely enough, the Tetley brothers didn’t initially set out to revolutionise the tea industry. Flogging salt to Yorkshiremen was their primary business, but in 1837 that all changed when they added tea to their repertoire.

Sourced from Kenya, China, Malawi, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Assam, Indonesia, and Argentina, Tetley has professional tea tasters in seven countries around the world. The British tea brand is a founder member of the Ethical Tea Partnership and sources 100% of its tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified gardens. It has even created its own unique tea-tasting language called “Uhuru” that allows Tetley tasters and blenders to describe and grade the quality of the teas.

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Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

5. Thompson's Special Everyday

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We've been busy testing the best tea again and one of the newest on this list is the superb Belfast-based Thomson's Tea. This award-winning tea maker has been around since 1896 which equates to four generations of tea making. Its everyday brew is something special: a blend of assam and leaves from Mount Kenya. There's a lovely maltiness to the blend and this is certainly one that you can have numerous cuppas of throughout the day.

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The UK’s first Fairtrade tea company, Clipper, was founded by a tea-obsessed husband and wife team in a Dorset kitchen back in 1984. What began as just two chests of Assam tea sold to local health food shops soon developed into a range of over 150 different products. Clipper's bold flavours include ‘Organic Liquorice Infusion’ and ‘Organic Wild Berry Infusion’. The options are seemingly endless.

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Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

7. Tea Pigs

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A relatively new addition to the world of tea, Tea Pigs was founded in November 2006 with one mission – to get the nation drinking real tea.The company prides itself on producing whole leaf tea (as opposed to what it describes as “the dusty stuff you’ll find in regular paper teabags”), which includes whole leaf herbs, whole berries, whole spices and whole flowers. That’s a whole lotta delicious tea.

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Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

8. Whittard of Chelsea

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This boutique tea brand is a go-to for gifting, particularly if you are looking to buy loose leaf tea rather than bags. However, it does offer 50-bags packs too.

Whittard of Chelsea’s classic is loose leaf Earl Grey, a staple of birthday and Christmas gifts for decades. The brand has been around since 1886, but hasn’t been owned by the Whittard family since the 1970s.

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Best tea: bags and loose-leaf blends

9. Brew Tea Co

From £5.49
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We've had a fantastic number of cuppas from Brew Tea Co. The English Breakfast, Assam and Earl Grey varieties were all taste tested and there's a real freshness in each sip, thanks to the tea being loose leaf (albeit in a bag, though bag-free options are also available). Our favourite was the malty English Breakfast, but the Earl Grey has a real unique taste - a touch floral but unlike any other Earl Grey we've tasted.

While you can buy by the box, the official site is a cornucopia of tea goodies, including some brilliant mugs, tea pots and more - great then if you are looking for a gift for the tea fan in your life.

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See the Lipton brand and you may think of fruit-flavoured iced tea rather than a hot mug of English Breakfast. However, its range spans the gamut, from its classic Yellow Label black tea to numerous fruit and herbal teas — and of course the tea adjacent iced tea soft drinks. However, in the UK you are less likely to encounter its traditional black tea blends.

Lipton began in Scotland more than 100 years ago, in 1871.

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From whole leaf, white tea and herbal varieties to alternative selections including chocolate chai and banana shake, Twist Teas offer an impressively wide range of flavour combinations direct from Hertfordshire. If you're looking to never get bored of a brew, It's time to put the kettle on and grab a Twist.

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Pukka now graces every supermarket shelf from here to timbuktu. It serves up all manner of herbal varieties to cater to our ever-evolving tastes. Fair for Life certified, Pukka prides itself on sourcing organic ingredients and continuously aiming to reduce its carbon footprint because it believes “a healthy world means a healthy you”. We’re pretty sure its tagline should be: punchy name, punchy flavour.

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An international addition to our line-up, T2 Tea is blended in Melbourne, Australia. It sells over 100 different teas, from traditional flavours like English Breakfast to more unusual offerings like Gorgeous Geisha (a variety of green tea) and a Creme Brulee infusion. It aims to be 100% sustainably sourced by the end of 2019, and plans to make all gift wrapping and take-away cups reusable, recyclable or compostable by the end of 2020.

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The brand that famously put the ‘oo in Typhoo’, this Great British tea company started life back in 1903. Derived from the Chinese word for doctor, Typhoo was originally named Typhoo Tipps Tea - the extra p being a printing typo that hung around for years. The brand also offers a range of tea-related baking recipes. Just in case you’re after the full afternoon tea experience.

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Tell us about it, and if enough people agree we'll add it in.