Sunday Tea Hoots 3 – Being a Canadian Tea Drinker in the US

With it recently being Canada Day (July 1st) and living in the US, I was thinking what it was like being a Canadian Tea Drinker. There’s a sort of pride in being a Canadian Tea drinker and being set apart from our North American neighbour. Before my obsessive tea drinking days begun – I had heard that tea sold in Canada was better quality as 1. We get the British stuff and 2. Canadians will not drink crappy tea.

Sunday Tea Hoots - Canadian Tea

I googled around for proof. Right off the bat the two big tea bag brands – Red Rose and Tetley pop up that the US blend is much different than the Canadian blend.  I remember Tetley being popular growing up, I remember cute animated commercials growing up of tiny humans in brown smurf hats brewing round tea bags (I never quite understood their logic on why round tea bags were better).

In regards to differences between the teas, for Tetley’s case, the US blend is different due to different palate.

Is the Tetley® tea I buy in the USA the same as the Tetley® Tea in Canada or the UK?
The tea in Canada and the UK is not the same as the tea offered in the USA. The Canadian consumer has a different tea palate than the US consumer, and our tea reflects the choice of the Americans. Our British Blend tea is the closest blend to what is enjoyed in Canada and the UK. It comes in a round, stringless tea bag with a special paper that allows for fuller infusion, but it is not an identical blend to the Canadian/UK blends.

The different palate thing is kind of like how hot dogs taste different depending what region you are in. By the way, US hot dogs are gross – the texture is weird and the flavor is bland (foreshadowing….)

Red Rose is a classic Canadian brand of tea. Growing up in Canada, Red Rose is the tea you’ll see at every coffee shop and restaurant as your default tea option. Red Rose is that tea your Canadian grandmother drinks. It was that tea everyone had in the back of their cupboard that was probably put there by your grandmother. I think I’ve consumed some Red Rose bags that are older than some pu’er samples I have. I admit, there’s nostalgia and comfort drinking a tea you grew up with, but I rather have better tasting loose leaf instead.

Poke around Amazon and they sell a separate product as Canadian Red Rose. There is also a Canadian Breakfast blend. Check out the comments for the Canadian Red Rose too – plenty of raves of the Canadian Red Rose taste stronger and full bodied, vs the watered down US Red Rose. Skim through other Red Rose products and see the comments ranting how they got the US tea instead. Apparently the Canadian Red Rose is Orange Pekoe whereas the US one is cut with another black tea.

Go Canada!

I hear plenty of Americans here trying to get their hands on British tea bags when all the have to do is go north, but it still is easy to get tea from where ever via online shopping.

The big thing that came up in my search and what happened to me was on the subject of Iced Tea. In Canada, if I order or purchase a can of iced tea it is sweetened. It usually lemon iced tea, more often it was Lipton Brisk brand from pop/soda fountains. To me, sweetened iced tea was the default and by the way this was sweetened with sugar, not corn syrup.

The shock was being in the US and the first time I got iced tea. I actually was in LAX airport getting something to eat before I got on my flight back to Vancouver. I went to get a fountain drink and selected something labelled iced tea and it was shockingly unsweetened. I was okay with this as I always rather have less calories, but also it was pretty awful tasting since the sugar can hide the bad tea. Next shocker was ordering sweet tea and it was more or less that same stale tea with too generous amount of sugar in it, without that lemon flavor I’m used to in Canada, with the Canadian one being much less sweet. Getting iced tea isn’t an issue for me living in the US as I can just buy a can of Brisk (though the sugar flavor is off) but more often since I have so much freaking tea (still 500+ in my stash) I just make my own and bring it with me everywhere.

What I do like about living in the US over Canada is shipping prices. Sometimes it’s a non-issue if I’m ordering on ebay, aliexpress, Japan or China since it’s overseas, but most US tea shops have expensive shipping to Canada. Of course it is expected to be pricey to ship, but often I’ve seen is US tea sellers that use priority flat rate USPS shipping will charge $30 to ship to Canada, even if you are just buying 1oz of tea. Thankfully, more awesome online Canadian Tea shops open up for those living in Canada.

I’m heading back home to Vancouver for a few days in August and I’m hoping to check out how much the tea scene changed since I left. As much as I’ve been raised on a different palate of stronger black bagged tea, I think I’ll pass on the Canadian bagged tea and go for the oolong and pu’er.

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