You’ve had it, you’ve worn its retro merch and now you can drink it with your nan – sort of.
To coincide with the upcoming Ashes cricket series, the creative types over at VB have taken the quintessentially English (tea) and paired it with the fundamentally Australian (beer). The result is a combination of Ceylon black tea and Super Pride hops, the hop variety that gives VB its characteristic bitterness. And it’s non-alcoholic, which can be seen as a good thing. Or a bad thing.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on the stuff – the first run has sold out, but a spokesperson says the company is “in the process of exploring our options to produce more” – you can smugly say you stayed up all night watching the cricket and drinking VB. Nobody needs to know you were sipping mugs of tea the whole time. This is just one of the many hilarious gag opportunities that having a box of beer-branded tea provides.
So, what does VB Tea taste like? When you pull out one of the bags (there are 24 to a $10 box because it’s like a slab, but it’s tea) you immediately get a pungent, hoppy whiff. It turns out, though, once you add hot water, maybe a splash of milk and – if you’re one of those people – sugar, the beery smelling hops will retreat, and you’ll be left with a perfectly ordinary, if immaculately branded, cuppa. In short, it’s a lot like tea and a little like VB. Which is about what I was expecting. There’s something about it all that makes me feel a little bit sad.
For journalism’s sake, and as a devoted tea fan, I felt it was my duty to try VB Tea in every possible combination. With and without milk. With sugar. Without sugar. Scalding and at room temperature. With long and short brew times. Even an iced version I kept in the fridge.
Regardless of how I prepared the damn thing, the hops would always fade into the background, sometimes disappearing completely, resulting in an inoffensive black tea with a strange aftertaste. Except for the makeshift iced tea. That was just bad.
My conclusion is that if you enjoy VB the beer, keep drinking that. If you like tea and you also like VB, maybe just consume them separately. If you like offbeat but good-natured promotional stunts, this is the brew for you.
VB tea has sold out online, and details of a second release are still pending. If you really need to get your hands on this tea, I’ll be putting my box on eBay in the next few days.