How To Get A Decent Cup Of Tea In Mexico

Updated: Feb 12

People are always going on about coffee. I've tried it. I don't like it 🙄


I've tried freeze-dried, powdered, filtered; rich, mellow; full-strength and decaf. I've tried it with milk and without, with cream; with no sugar, two sugars, 4 sugars. I don't know if it's a genetic thing or if I'm just weird, but I was never able to get my head round the taste of it.


Now, if you live in Latin America and like coffee, you're in luck. Half the countries in this part of the world produce the stuff, and I'm reliably told that it's some of the best in the world. (Although I think even my most caffeinated friends would draw the line at Kopi Luwak. There's coffee, and there's...)


Tea, on the other hand, is nectar. Under normal circumstances I can't get enough of it. A cup or two when I wake up, one when I sit down to work, and keep-them-coming most of the morning and afternoon. Tea is one of the reasons life is worth living 😀


This is particularly the case for people from the UK (and I suspect many other parts of the Commonwealth). Although times are changing and Starbucks et al are eroding societal values, I like to think that it's not just a lost generation of old buggers like me who appreciate it. That there is still a place for Proper British Tea.


But you can see my dilemma. If you rely on something which is not really consumed, in a part of the world where everyone drinks something else... it's not easy to find drinkable tea in Mexico. I'm sure it's going to be the same elsewhere in Latin America.


Luckily, you don't have to wander around like I did trying to find where to get tea in Mexico. I've taken one for the team, and the results are below.


Tea Solidarity! 😄



So, What's The Tea Situation?


Let's start off by defining what we mean by 'tea'. There are any number of teas available in the shops. Herbal tea. White tea. Green tea. Black-tea-which-is-not-the-kind-of-black-tea-I-want.


To someone from the UK, this is not considered 'tea'.


'Tea' is what you serve to workmen when they stop for a break and a smoke, as they're building your loft extension, or knocking a wall through. In fact, we actually call it 'builders tea'. Strong, dark, probably two sugars. Tea you can chew.


There have been times over the last few months when I would have given a fortune for a giant catering-size bag of unbranded builders 'tea'. Sadly, ain't no such thing to be found here.


Tea in Mexico is:


  • Expensive

  • Not easy to find

  • Mainly awful


But despair not! All is not lost. There is light in the darkness. We'll get through this. Together.




Tea Reviews: Options For Almost Proper British Tea ™️


So far I've been able to find a few drinkable kinds of tea in Mexico. I've listed them below. I've noted where I've found them. That's not to say you can't buy them elsewhere - please message me or leave a comment if you want me to add more info.

Note that the 'Mexican' tea brands listed here are not, actually, Mexican. They're American or UK. If I come across any noteworthy Mexican tea 'names', I'll add them to the post.



Twinings English Breakfast

Let's start with a brand you've actually heard of before. Back home, I don't know anyone who buys Twinings. Certainly not in boxes of 25. We're used to seeing it at corporate buffets, in restaurants; maybe your Aunt Mabel, who "never drinks the stuff", keeps a box for when people pop by.


Surprisingly enough, this isn't too hard to find. It may not be the best tea in the world, but it taste all right, and it'll get you through the long dark teatime of the soul.


Name: Twinings English Breakfast

Price/box: Around MX$80 / UK£3.30

Price/brew: 13p

Taste: A solid 🟢🟢🟢⚫️⚫️

Find it at: Chedraui, Walmart, Soriana, Amazon.mx

Comments: Not cheap, but cheerful enough. A familiar taste, with mild overtones of decadence. Note that it comes in boxes of 25.



Full Circle Market 'Organic' English Breakfast

I'd never seen this brand before, and it was one of the first we tried in Mexico. Mrs Wench's imported Irish tea bags were getting to the bottom of the tupperware box, and we were a few days away from Teamageddon. We had to take a risk.


The best that you can say is that they're drinkable. The taste is a bit thin. I don't know, maybe that's the Calvinistic price you pay for saving the world with organic produce.


What really maddens Mrs Wench and I, however, is the packaging. One of the reasons for buying organic is that it's meant to be good for the environment, right?


So why are the tea bags individually wrapped in plastic?

Saving the planet: one step forward, one step back?

Look, it'll do at a pinch, but if you can find some other way to do something good for the planet, switch to that at the first opportunity,.


Name: Full Circle Market English Breakfast

Price/box: Around MX$80 / UK£3.30

Price/brew: 16½p

Taste: An insipid 🟢🟢⚫️⚫️⚫️

Find it at: Chedraui

Comments: It's too easy to be cynical and suggest that they're more interested in selling the 'organic' label than actually being helpful, so I won't do that. I particularly loved the "serving suggestion" on the side of the box. 20 bags per pack.



Bigelow English Breakfast


OK, now we're talking. Another US brand I'd never come across before, this stuff definitely qualifies as 'tea'. It's rich, dark and tasty. Maybe a little uncultured? You don't want to be holding this in a china cup with your pinkie out, when the vicar comes round to tea.


It's more like the kind of thing you would feed to the aforementioned builders, and they'd thank you for it.


For the time being this is the best I can find. Bonus: it's also the cheapest!



Name: Bigelow English Breakfast

Price/box: Around MX$60 / UK£2.50

Price/brew: 12½p

Taste: A chewy 🟢🟢🟢🟢⚫️

Find it at: Chedraui, Walmart

Comments: Clearly not the Real McCoy, as it's from the US and it's in Mexico. But still - this is a tea you can actually enjoy drinking. Packs of 20.




Stash English Breakfast


I was in two minds about including this. We tried it in La Paz after a previous Teamageddon incident, and it was awful. Then I read some reviews about it which said it was wonderful. I thought maybe we'd got a bad batch or similar, so got another and tried again.


And actually, it's not half bad. It doesn't have the rounded flavour of Bigelows, but it's reasonably strong, not too delicate, and hits the spot with its aftertaste. Twinings probably edges it, for me, but it's a solid choice if it's all you can get.



Name: Stash English Breakfast

Price/box: Around MX$70 / UK£2.90

Price/brew: 14½p

Taste: A workmanlike 🟢🟢🟢⚫️⚫️

Find it at: Walmart

Comments: Another one that will do at a pinch. You're not going to be reclining and moaning in pleasure with it, but you'll get a reasonable tea hit. Packs of 20.




Vidanat Té Negro


You won't normally see me within 100 yards of anything resembling a 'health food' or 'natural produce' store. But we passed Super Naturista in the centre of Guadalajara and I saw they had tea, so we dropped in to see if they had anything potable.


This stuff is weird. It's definitely tea; C. sinensis and nothing else. And it comes in boxes of 36! And it's pretty cheap! There has to be a catch, right?


First of all the bags contain 1g of tea. I don't know how much that is compared to "real" tea, but it doesn't seem like much! In fact the instructions even suggest putting "1 or 2 bags" in with the water.


Second - eurgh. It's tea, sure enough, but it's super delicate and just not right. Mrs Wench put it well - she said it tastes half way towards Earl Grey.


Third - it's another one that comes individually wrapped in plastic! It really winds me up promoting allegedly 'healthy' or 'green' products with single-use plastics.





Name: Vidanat Té Negro

Price/box: Around MX$30 / UK£1.25

Price/brew: 14½p (I'm counting 2 bags = 1 brew!)

Taste: A confusing and disappointing 🟢⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️

Find it at: Super Naturista

Comments: If it's a choice between this and some nonsense, hippy-dippy exotic blend of leaves and flowers, go for this. In any other event find another use for it. Kindling? Packs of 36.




Summary


Getting a decent brew in Latin America is not easy. It's expensive and onerous. Sacrifices and compromises need to be made.


But as I say above - if we stick together, we can get through it.


Leave me a message if there's something I need to know.


And good luck out there 👍🏻



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Mexico Travel Blog | marco@jocksaway.com