The Pantone Tea Color Guide That’s Got Twitter in a Tizzy

July 28, 2017

Back on Monday, Twitter account @yorkshireprobs tweeted out an image of 16 cups of black tea, all arranged carefully to resemble a Pantone paint guide. The chart's columns are labeled with letters, its rows with numbers. As your eyes travel down the plot, the shades of brown get progressively more faint, any evidence of any tea at all more subtle.

The chart’s popularity is a decidedly British phenomenon, picked up by many publications the United Kingdom who've been referring to this chart as "viral." Such a label strikes me as something of a stretch, given those engagement numbers aren’t quite in the thousands yet.

So, a qualifier: This mildly viral chart has certainly inspired some spirited debate, with a dazzling array of opinions at home and abroad. Most respondents gravitated towards the middle of the chart—D1, D2, or B3—with some occasionally assuming rebel stances. “Give me A1 or give me death,” one Canadian epigrammatist quipped.

It's a handy chart. Me? I’m pretty non-controversial, somewhere between D1, D2, and C2 depending on the day and mood, with a drop of honey to round out the flavor. Most agree that a cup of tea steeped for mere seconds isn’t tea at all—what, with its flavors drowned in dairy, flushing the tea leaves of any potency. Anything in row 4? That’s what I call a cup of “just milk.”

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“A1 (w/lemon) unless it's an Earl Grey day - then solid D2”
— Moshee

What are you—A1, D4, somewhere in the middle? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Kam S. July 29, 2017
FJT July 28, 2017
Chzplz July 28, 2017
None of the above. Lighter than A1, no milk. I like my orange pekoe orangey coloured, thank you very much.
Moshee July 28, 2017
A1 (w/lemon) unless it's an Earl Grey day - then solid D2