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Last Updated on June 20, 2022 by Scott
Heard the term ‘Builders Tea’? Considering rushing off to your local grocery store to grab some? Well, before you do, we have to point out that builder’s tea is not a specific tea brand or type. Builder’s tea refers to how the tea is made.
As you can probably imagine, builders tea is a term that originated in England. It probably won’t take a linguistic degree to work out that this type of tea originated on the building site too, a place that used to be famous for the copious amounts of tea consumed each day. When people talk about builders’ teas, they’re talking about a tea that has been made incredibly strong. We’re talking bags left in to steep for 5-6 minutes plus. And, very little care and attention paid to what the tea tastes like, and more concern about consumption (at least historically that’s the case)!
In this article we’ll highlight a bit of the history related to builders tea. We’re also going to tell you how you can make your own!
The Story of Builders Tea
The story of builders tea is rather simple. Builders tea originates from builders in the UK. Well, blue-collared workers. Mostly those involved in the construction or manufacturing business.
As you may know, British people love their tea. We can assure you that if you head to any office, worksite, or store, there will be a ton of tea consumed throughout the day. It’s the main source of beverage in a person’s working life. Although, somewhat sadly, coffee looks set to overtake tea in the future.
All of those people working in the construction or manufacturing business wanted to consume tea. They loved it. The problem was they didn’t have a huge amount of time to dedicate to proper preparation with a teapot. They simply need to pop the teabag in a mug, and just pull it out whenever they had a spare moment. The result is an incredibly strong, and somewhat bitter tea. We’ll cover more about that shortly.
Nobody knows when the term builders tea started to be used. However, it’s believed it was sometime around the 1970s. Nowadays, the term is used extensively in the UK. If somebody asks for a builders tea, then they’re asking for an incredibly strong cup of tea. Nothing more. Nothing less.
What Does Builders Tea Taste Like?
There aren’t that many rules around what type of tea you can use in a builders tea. While most people use standard black tea (sometimes labeled as Breakfast Tea), you can use any tea you want. Yep. You can use Earl Grey, or even an herbal tea, to make a builders tea. You probably wouldn’t want to tell the lads on the building site, though.
The longer the tea bag is left in the mug, the stronger the tea gets. It’s not uncommon for builders teas to be the result of a tea bag sitting in a mug for up to 10-minutes. This means that you have to love the flavor of the tea. It can be quite overwhelming. You could also run the risk of getting tea drunk if you drink too much at this strength.
The problem is that the longer you leave the teabag in, the more bitter the taste becomes. Because of this, a lot of builders teas will include a ton of sugar. We’re talking about several teaspoons. The sweetness helps to cut through the bitterness, and you have a mug full of calories that should help you get through the rest of the working day.
How Do You Make Builders Tea?
You can take a bit of a laissez-faire approach to making builders tea. There are no hard and fast rules. As long as you have a tea bag, milk, and boiled water then you should be good to go. If you need suggestions on tea brands, skip ahead to the next section.
- Boil your water
- Add a dash of milk to a mug (if you prefer). Yes. Add the milk first.
- Put the teabag in the mug.
- Pour the boiling water over the teabag.
- Wait 5-6 minutes. Longer, if you want a strong taste.
- Remove the teabag.
You can add some sugar if you want. Some people dislike the intense strength of a builders tea.
Best Tea for a Builders Tea
As we said, there aren’t any rules about what type of tea you can have in a builders tea. However, it’s traditional to opt for a cheaper, simple black tea. This means any supermarket black tea should work. There are some teas that you will find more often used than others.
Make Mine a Builders
In the UK, when you ask somebody what type of tea they want, they may respond with “make mine a builders“. So, slang. This brand plays into that slang term. This tea has been made from the finest black tea leaves on the market. There are no complicated flavor profiles. It is all about making sure that the freshly brewed tea is as strong as possible.
Make Mine a Builders certainly sits on the upper end of the price scale. However, it also sits on the upper end of the flavor profile too.
Yorkshire Tea seems to be a favorite among the Northerners, although it has managed to creep into the south a little bit. Yorkshire Tea has been designed especially for hard water. So, if you live in a place with mineral-heavy water, then you’re probably going to want to pick up some Yorkshire Tea. The taste will be impeccable.
PG Tips is probably the most popular brand in the UK. It’s affordable tea but still has a decent flavor to it. If a laborer isn’t drinking Yorkshire Tea, chances are that they’re drinking PG Tips.
Builders tea is the simplest tea to make (unlike all the nuances of cream tea, for example). It requires no special knowledge. As long as you can add a tea bag into a mug and then remove it again a few minutes later, then you can make this tea. It’s the perfect tea to drink for those that really love intensely deep flavors, or perhaps those that constantly find themselves ‘on the go.’ There’s a reason why this is the way many British folks take their tea. It’s simple, good, tea.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.