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Tea Showdown — Eng. Breakfast Blend No. 1 vs. Scottish Breakfast

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!

5 responses to “Tea Showdown — Eng. Breakfast Blend No. 1 vs. Scottish Breakfast”

  1. […] are ground fine to steep faster and stronger. A tough choice between this and the one below (see Tea Showdown — Eng. Breakfast Blend No. 1 vs. Scottish Breakfast), but this tea would certainly cheer up my distressed […]

  2. […] Day — April 25th — You can celebrate by steeping some Formosa oolong in a Bodum teapot or some English Breakfast Blend in a kyusu. Some Japanese Houjicha steeped […]

  3. Burning Question: I’m mad for Scottish Breakfast tea, and one of it’s most delightful qualities – before you even take a sip – is it’s beautiful, bright almost RED color. The Taylors of Harrogate brand I’ve been using descibes the blend as a mixture of Assam and “African” tea leaves. Now, I’ve just finished the wonderful “Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency” series, and putting two and two together, I’m wondering if the red quality and robust flavor might be due in part to the presence of African Red or “Bush” tea? Now, I realize Assam can impart a similar hues to the brewed tea, so I’m not going to get too excited here, but I do hope you can set me staight on this.



    1. Here is where tea terms get so confusing. The stuff from Africa that folks here in the U.S. are calling “red tea” is not tea at all. It is rooibos (South Afrikaner for “red bush”). True red tea is what tea drinkers in many other countries, especially Asia, call the stuff that we refer to as “black tea.” We name it according to the color of the dry leaves. They name it according to the color of the steeped liquid. The wonderful ruby color you are seeing is from the black tea, especially the Assam. The African tea referred to so obliquely in the Taylors of Harrogate description is most likely Kenyan but could also be from Rhwanda, which is increasing its tea production by leaps and bounds. Thanks for reading, and have a great tea day! 🙂

  4. […] one disagreement I’m steering clear of and just enjoying this splendid dish with some tasty Breakfast Blend […]

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