Thursday, 19 February 2015

Solicited review of PG Tips Premium Gold Blend Tea

I'll admit it, I do like my tea. Most days at home I do things quick and easy, pulling a tea bag out of a box and brewing up a cup of "builder's tea" sweetened with a bit of Stevia and a good splash of skimmed milk. So, I was very happy to sign up when BzzAgent recently asked me to review a new tea from PG Tips, their Gold blend.
PG Tips are a British icon

I grew up in Kansas drinking instant iced tea either sweetened with sugar or served with lemon. You can imagine the change then when I came to England and was introduced to the idea of drinking hot tea. Year round!

In the first few years I had my tea very weak with a lot of sugar, and no milk.
Water bewitched and tea bedamned!

I didn't brew my tea, I quickly dipped a bag into a cup of boiled water and took it right out again. Over time I began brewing cups a bit longer, and one day decided to try it with milk. Until now when I give my tea a full brewing time of 3 - 5 minutes, depending upon the type. I still have a bit of sugar in my tea because I really dislike bitterness, but I don't use nearly as much as I used to. Most of the time I use stevia as a sweetener in place of sugar and I add a goodly amount of milk - no tiny splash for me. 

PG Tips Gold

The blurb for this tea describes it thusly:
A fine mix of African, Ceylon and Assam teas, PG Gold is one of the most premium cuppa’s you can find, with its bright golden colour, citrusy taste and rich aroma. The perfect balance provides sweet and high flavour notes. Overall a high quality cuppa, great for any time of day. It’s like a hug in a mug.

Notes: Rich, full-bodied & full of flavour! Gold is simply tea as it should be.

The Packaging

Seems a funny place to start a review, but this was a beginning sticking point for me. The tea bags come in a standard thin cardboard box, wrapped around with cellophane to preserve freshness. I found it very difficult to actually get into the box because the cellophane wrapping was sealed in so tightly. Eventually, I resorted to stabbing through cellophane and box with a pair of scissors and cutting it open that way.

The addition of a simple zip line to open the cellophane wrapping would be very handy, and surely not that much more trouble to add to the final packaging.

The cellophane wrapping isn't recyclable, however the box itself is.

My rating: 3/5

The Teabag

In 1996 the pyramid shaped teabag was invented by Brook Bond, then the parent company of PG
Pyramid shaped bag =  efficient brewing
Tips. PG Tips has been using this shaped bag ever since. They claimed the unique shape allowed for a more efficient brewing, a claim upheld in 2014 by the Advertising Standards Agency.

Tea leaves have more room, meaning more water can get in between the leaves in the bag, meaning you get a cup of tea more quickly. According to the PG Tips site, a cup of their standard tea that normally takes a mine to brew can be brewed using this type bag in about 40 seconds.

The directions on the box of PG Tips Gold recommended brewing for 2 - 3 minutes, so for my first cup I waited about 3 minutes before removing the tea bag and adding milk and stevia.

My rating: 5/5

The Cuppa

I tried several cups of PG Tips Gold over a couple of days, brewing each for longer or shorter lengths of time just to check for flavour and strength. Most were brewed between 3- 5 minutes, but one long cup managed to brew for a good 10 - 15 minutes after I forgot it was sitting on the counter!

The first cup, brewed for 3 minutes gave me a cup exactly as they described. It had a rich, full-bodied taste with hints of citrus. Cups brewed for longer gave the same only slightly stronger. None of these cups had even a hint of bitterness.

Most tea if brewed too long become bitter and undrinkable. When I discovered my forgotten mug of over brewed tea, I decided to drink it, but expected it to have become bitter. I was very happy to discover that this was not the case. Even that poor forgotten mug, brewed 10 minutes longer than advised had not even a trace of bitterness to it and gave me an excellent cup of tea.

Drinking it cold

Most teas are made to be drunk hot, or at least warm, but like many I tend to make a cup then forget to drink it as I get involved with doing other things. I found that even when this tea was cold, it continued to have the same rich flavour.

My rating: 5/5

The Price

PG Tips is not the cheapest brand of tea around. But they will probably point out you are paying for the quality of the tea as well as the brand. These new blends Gold, Strong, and Fresh are currently being sold in Asda at £2.99 for a box of 80 bags (£1.29 per 100g).

This compares to the price of £2.29 for a box of 80 of the everyday PG Tips blend
(91.6p per 100g), and a price of £1.38 for a box of 80 of the Asda brand Gold blend tea (55.2p per 100g) I don't know how these compare in terms of flavour or brewing but I suspect the difference in price is reflected in the quality of the tea leaves being used.

I doubt I buy another box of the PG Tips Gold, no matter how much I like the flavour, simply because it is priced rather outside of my food budget these days. I will however, enjoy this box while it lasts.

My rating 3/5

Eco concerns

Animal testing
Unilever, which owns PG Tips, and PG Tips came under fire from animal rights groups a few years back after it was revealed that they were doing animal testing to try to prove health benefits of drinking tea for marketing purposes. Since then, they have stated that testing on animals is no longer being conducted. However, some people have made the decision to stop drinking PG Tips regardless.

I checked online to see if there had been any more recent claims that PG Tips had resumed animal testing, but could find nothing to indicate it had.

 Rainforest Alliance
100% of the tea used by PG Tips is now sourced from farms which pay workers fair wages and provide access to good quality housing, medical care and education for their children.

Rainforest Alliance certified products originate on--or contain ingredients sourced from--Rainforest Alliance Certified farms or forests. These farms and forests are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria designed to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.

Composting and recycling
Used tea bags are fully compostable and can either be added a compost bin at home, or placed in a council provided food waste bin for composting.

My rating: 5/5, but should I discover they have resumed doing any kind of animal testing for health benefit claims this rating will drop considerably.

Disclaimer: I received a free box of PG Tips Gold blend tea in exchange for an honest review as a BzzAgent.