The punnet of organic strawberries, the £6 bag of ridiculously healthy cereal, the posh box of tea. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the finer things in life… and the supermarket. The 21st Century is a materialistic one; but among the consumer madness, the hunger for the most fashionable (and coincidentally, most expensive) products, I feel the need to reflect. Is price always synonymous with quality? Are the purse friendlier alternatives really so repulsive that they would shame even the middle-class shopping basket and the middle-class tongue?
Opening the tea cupboard as my daily rummage commenced, I had every intention of emerging with a branded, quasi gourmet, wildly flavoured tea. In reality, my eventual choice ticked, ahem, none of these boxes. It wasn’t branded, it certainly wasn’t gourmet and I had yet to discover the extent of its flavour. It was simply Tesco ‘Green Tea with Lemon’. But as my PiP Studio teacup chinked on the kitchen surface and the kettle mumbled incessantly, I pondered the plausibility of the conviction that this green tea with lemon could be so different from its more expensive equivalents. It strikes me how easily influenced we are by what we see: the bold boxes of the more expensive teas, adorned with floral images and ‘fancy’ writing almost threaten our eyes into sending a tingly sensation screaming ‘GOURMET!’ to our brains and tongues. Thus I find it difficult to believe teabags encased in bland, unimaginative, frankly boring boxes stand a chance with anyone.
Only one thing could rectify such a situation, a situation that obviously poses a threat to world peace and happiness: a tea case-study. The scene is set, the crowd are waiting, the teabags are on the counter: it’s Clipper ‘Green Tea with Lemon’ versus Tesco ‘Green Tea with Lemon’.
When merely glancing at the two teabags, the concept of brand seems virtually redundant. They’re both rectangular, they both possess a slight scent of lemon, they both diffuse well. The seed of distinction between the two begins to blossom as the teabags are removed and the cup descends upon your lips. Tesco’s version is darker, gloomier, one might say more ‘tea-like’, whereas Clipper’s cuppa is more colourful, more translucent, more lemon-like. Unfortunately the inequality of appearance is equally reflected in taste…
Teas featuring lemon uphold immense importance (and popularity) in the tea world, to the extent that they’ve become institutions. These institutions are renowned for fulfilling certain duties: refreshing, restoring, reviving. Tesco’s attempt at green tea with lemon succeeds to an extent: the lemon is refreshingly present in (very) subtle undertones, but said undertones are so subtle they become desolate in comparison to the overbearing smokiness of the tea’s aftertaste. However, Clipper’s tea embodies the quintessential green tea with lemon. The lemon side of the drink is mellow, but nonetheless possesses the power to dominate the taste-buds’ attention much more than Tesco’s concoction. It is elegant in flavour, refreshing and simple, the only hint of negativity being an occasional unleashing of perfume-like taste.
And so for the verdict. In this case, I feel as if I should eat (or drink) my thoughts. Tesco’s ‘Green Tea with Lemon’ is by no means disgusting, or even unpleasant. In fact I believe that for an inexperienced herbal tea drinker, it is the perfect box of tea for the initiation job. However, it is true that paying those few extra pence or even pounds makes all the taste-bud difference. Clipper have created a frankly beautiful blend that caters to all your lemon tea needs. Its flavour oozes quality and charisma, a charisma that would struggle to exist if it weren’t for that extra bit of magic a few pence can buy you… care.