Not all breakfast teas are created equal. Some are pure Assam, with a malty allure that makes your senses of taste and smell go on high alert. Others are blends that can start with Assam and expand with the addition of Darjeeling, Keemun, or other black teas. They dance around on your tongue with happy feet of flavor that defy you to climb back under the covers and spur you to a vigorous start to your day.

For this tea showdown, I compared two loose breakfast teas: English Breakfast Blend No. 1 versus Scottish Breakfast.

Here’s the blow-by-blow comparison:

The dry teas:

The pieces of the teas are quite different. The English Breakfast Blend No. 1 is made of tiny tea leaf pieces (fannings) but large enough to be caught by a strainer and kept out of your cup, and they have a dark, hearty aroma. The Scottish Breakfast consists of much larger pieces (typical size for a good quality black tea) with a fresh, malty, oaky aroma.

The process:

For this controlled steeping of each tea, I used 2 heaping teaspoonfuls in 16 ounces of water. The water was heated to boiling (212˚ F), and the teas were steeped for 5 minutes. They were then poured through a strainer into the cups.

In the cup, plain:

Both teas steeped to a beautiful reddish brown color, but the English Breakfast Blend No. 1 was a couple of shades darker than the Scottish Breakfast. For both, the aroma of the dry tea carried through in the liquid and each was strong with a bitter aftertaste (the English Breakfast Blend No. 1 was a bit more so).

In the cup, with milk and sweetener:

Both took milk and sweetener well. The English Breakfast Blend No. 1 remained strong, earthy, and hearty; it’s a cup that really wakes you up. The Scottish Breakfast was smoother, maltier, yet strong and hearty; it, too, is a great wake-up tea but slightly more mellow.

I always steep my loose teas floating free in the teapot, but you could use an infuser basket if you don’t want the mess. Whatever way you choose, and whichever of these teas you choose, you’ll have a “cuppa” that will stimulate and satisfy, making you ready to face any challenge that comes your way. Don’t forget the “go-withs” (scones, muffins, or other goodies). Cheers!

If you’ve got questions about tea, A.C.’s got the answers. Check out her blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, for tea info galore!