Is there anything better than a cup of tea on a cool autumnal day? Or on a hot summer’s day, come to that. Or in the midst of a bitterly cold winter.

It’s the perfect way to start your day, the ideal pick-me-up when times are hard and the best way to spend time with friends. It’s warming, soothing, comforting, refreshing and it tastes so good. At least it does if it’s been made the way you like it, which probably isn’t the way Phil Toms likes it.

Phil (quite strong, brewed for about four minutes, no sugar, semi-skimmed milk) is head of marketing for Lancashire Tea and says: ‘I’m always a little anxious when someone I don’t know – and even some people I do know – make me a cup of tea. Making it right is such a personal thing; how long you let it brew, how much milk you use, whether you add sugar, it all makes a difference.’

Great British Life: Phil TomsPhil Toms

He’s just brewed up when we speak, and admits he used to be a fan of Twinings tea until he started working for Lancashire Tea’s parent company Keith Spicer. ‘There’s absolutely none of that now!’

Keith Spicer’s head office is in Dorset and they also blend Dorset Tea and Tea India. Phil grew up on the Dorset coast but moved to Lancashire when he married Rachel, from Rawtenstall. ‘She once told me that everything in Lancashire happens over a brew and there’s a lot of truth in that, so it makes sense to ensure it’s a good brew,’ he says.

‘Tea is of such importance, it brings real joy and it acts like a social glue, or a comfort blanket. Lancashire Tea is a really distinctive, nice, bright tea. It’s very bold but not overpowering and it’s super refreshing.

‘The softness of the water in Lancashire does affect the taste of the tea and the water should be boiled fresh every time, but what’s in the bag is the most important thing. We have two great tea buyers who have an encyclopedic knowledge of tea and create superb blends. Dorset Tea is a very different blend to Lancashire Tea – it looks different and it tastes different.’

Lancashire Tea was launched in 2005 and the recipe has been tweaked a couple of times since then – it’s now made with a blend of teas from teas from Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Sumatra (if you want a cup of tea grown and made entirely in England, the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall make one. A box of 100 of their tea bags costs about £30).

Great British Life: Lancashire Tea and the distinctive boxLancashire Tea and the distinctive box

The distinctive hand-drawn map of the county on the packaging was doodled by Manchester-based artist Dave Draws and Lancashire Tea’s social media followers voted it their favourite of four options when the box was re-designed in 2009.

Phil, who joined the business as the nation emerged from lockdown, adds: ‘The challenge for brands is to stand out on the shelf and we think our product does that. We’re also very mindful that people are having to watch every penny, so we make sure we offer real value for money.

‘The brand is doing very well – it has a loyal and growing base in Lancashire and it’s now available in superstores outside our county as well, where it has been very well received. We plan to keep growing the brand and spreading further afield.

‘A decaffeinated Lancashire Tea is now available in Booths – they have been a fabulous partner for us and we like working with them. We’re also going to be working with more cafes, restaurants and farm shops and developing relationships with tourist accommodation as well so even more people can experience Lancashire Tea. We’re confident people will like it when they try it and hope that they’ll then look out for it on the shelves when they next go shopping.

‘As a business we’re also passionate about doing the right things in the community – we have given grants to good causes and provided tea for charity events. We’re also very proud to have a great relationship with the North West Air Ambulance and to support the wonderful work they do.’

Great British Life: Lancs v Yorks in a battle of teaLancs v Yorks in a battle of tea

Lancashire Tea v Yorkshire Tea

Apparently, Yorkshire Tea is also available. We put it to a perfectly fair and unbiased test against the obviously superior Lancashire Tea. Lancashire Tea v Yorkshire Tea

THE BOX: Lively, fun, creative – ooh look, I can nearly see my house / Ho hum, it’s a picture of a green hill. T

HE PRICE: £3 / £3.45.

THE BAGS: Round and robust, no escaped leaves / Square. Enough said.

THE COLOUR: Rich, deep amber / Murky with a hint of gloom.

THE FLAVOUR: Fresh and refreshing. Very drinkable / Credit where it’s due, this is ok, but one cup is enough.

THE VERDICT: What do you think? Lancashire wins it, of course. It’s more refreshing and easier to drink but tea is a very personal thing and you may not agree with our assessment. If Yorkshire is more your cup of tea, that’s your choice and we’ll try not to judge you too harshly