Breakfast Tea Demystified

For many in North America, the morning pick-me-up of choice is a cup of coffee. But in other parts of the world, tea is standard fare in the morning, which probably helps contribute to the fact that it’s the second most popular beverage worldwide after water.

English Breakfast Tea
English Breakfast Tea

Some of the most popular morning fare is made from black tea blends known as breakfast tea. The best known is English Breakfast Tea, closely followed by Irish Breakfast Tea and then Scottish Breakfast Tea. Many tea companies sell their own formulations of these blends, particularly the first two. Some lesser-known breakfast blends include China Breakfast, Welsh Breakfast, French Breakfast and even American Breakfast.

Scottish Breakfast Tea
Scottish Breakfast Tea

One of the most popular of the breakfast teas, English Breakfast, is a blend that’s likely to include black teas from Sri Lanka, China, Kenya and the Assam region of India. It’s a robust full-flavored tea that’s often consumed with milk and/or sugar. Origins are hazy, but one popular account claims a tea merchant in Edinburgh, Scotland came up with a blend he dubbed breakfast tea and which spread to England.

Other accounts say Richard Davis, an English immigrant to New York City and owner of the Canton Tea company, devised a black tea blend he dubbed English Breakfast Tea, in 1843, “after experimenting on the various flavored teas, [he] finally settled on congou as a base, adding a trifle of flowery Pekoe and a particular chop of Pouchong, which was then on the market.”

Irish Breakfast Tea
Irish Breakfast Tea

As some of the greatest tea lovers in the world, the Irish are particularly fond of black teas brewed strong and specifically black teas from India’s Assam region. It’s not completely clear why this is so, but the preference is reflected in Irish Breakfast Tea, which tends to be heavily weighted toward Assam varieties. As is the case with its breakfast tea cousins, the exact blend of Scottish Breakfast Tea may vary, but will generally contain a mix of black teas from India, Sri Lanka and China.

One thought on “Breakfast Tea Demystified

  1. An informative post. as we have come to expect from Mr Lengeman, but why no mention of Keemun as one of the original constituents of English Breakfast Tea? Or does the reference in the quotation to “congou” refer to a congou grade of Keemun? In any case, I am unable to do without Keemun as part of my morning breakfast ritual.

    Kind regards,
    -Arnold Zeman

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