Let’s talk breakfast tea (the most important drink of the day)!

You often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what about its beloved beverage companion?

Breakfast tea blends is arguably the most popular black teas worldwide. Conversely, however, many consumer query what exactly a breakfast tea is. What makes English Breakfast different from Irish Breakfast? Moreover, why do we coin them breakfast teas?

Well, prepare to read and steep—our tea-loving experts have broken down everything you need to know about these ubiquitous morning cuppas below!

What are breakfast teas?

At the most basic level, a breakfast tea is as any black tea variety that uses leaves from multiple, international, tea-growing regions. More importantly, breakfast teas are crafted with a country or region’s cultural taste in mind. 

How did breakfast tea come about?

A popular misconception about breakfast teas is that we name them after their country of origin. We do not harvest English Breakfast in England or Scottish Breakfast in Scotland. In fact, the English didn’t even invent English Breakfast!

Breakfast teas can find their origins in the late nineteenth century, when tea was drunk exclusively in the afternoon. Seeing an opportunity to create a stronger brew that he could market as “perfect for breakfast-time,” Scottish tea maker Robert Drysdale came up with the blend later known as English Breakfast.

The blend was a malty brew that could pair perfectly with more-ish baked beans and black pudding; ingredients that made up the traditional English ‘fry-up’ breakfast. To ensure his breakfast tea could be made all year long, Drysdale would source his loose leaves from tea estates around the world; Sri Lanka, India, and China. This is the same reason why contemporary breakfast blends differ in origin between manufacturers depending on where they are in the world.     

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So how did a Scotsman’s globally-sourced breakfast tea become known as ‘English’? The answer lies with Queen Victoria, who tried Drysdale’s blend on a visit to Balmoral Castle in 1892. She went on to popularise the blend among her peerage back home, soon making it the most sought-after tea in England. For this reason, it became known in popular culture as an English Breakfast tea. 

Some Americans claim that an emigrant to New York made the first English Breakfast tea—this is only partly true! Robert Davies began selling an “English Breakfast tea” in 1843 that became wildly popular in New York City. However, this blend was unknown in the United Kingdom at the time. Davies’ tea is also not the blend we associate with the English Breakfast teas of today. 

Seeing how popular English Breakfast tea has become, other tea makers began making breakfast teas that catered to their own region’s taste. This is where common blends such as Irish Breakfast, Scottish Breakfast, and Yorkshire Blend come from.

What are the different types of breakfast teas?

English Breakfast: Drydale’s original blend was thought to contain Keemun from China. However, due to historical changes and British reliance on colonial plantations from the nineteenth century onwards, most English Breakfast blends today use Indian and Ceylon leaves.

Irish Breakfast: the next breakfast tea to come along was made for Irish palates at a time when Assam tea was at the height of its popularity. For these reasons, Irish breakfast is particularly robust and champions Assam’s distinctively malty flavour.

Scottish Breakfast: many sippers consider Scottish Breakfast to be the strongest breakfast tea. This full-bodied brew tends to feature leaves from India and Kenya. The Tea Centre is unique in using ethically-sourced Ceylon leaves!

Yorkshire Blend: this breakfast tea uses leaves from Sri Lanka. A pioneering tea company created the blend in the 1970s to offset high mineral content in the Yorkshire water supply. While originally made in Yorkshire, this blend is now popular across the globe.

Australian Breakfast: given how comparatively young our tea industry is to England, Ireland, and Scotland, Australian Breakfast is not standardised and can differ greatly between tea retailers. However, The Tea Centre’s version is one of the best! Featuring an aromatic blend of Ceylon, Assam, and Darjeeling tea leaves, our Australian Breakfast boasts egalitarian flavour that’s enjoyable in backyards big and small across the country.  

What breakfast tea is best for me?

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Given many breakfast teas were popularised for reasons as idiosyncratic as what one queen fancied or what a town’s water supply, you definitely don’t have to be English to enjoy English Breakfast or Scottish to enjoy Scottish Breakfast.

The Tea Centre’s best advice is to let your taste buds be your guide! If you prefer a daintier morning brew, the sunny profile of the Yorkshire Blend is the one for you. For those after a caffeine-kick, a Scottish or Irish Breakfast may be preferable. As for a tea that evokes memories of early mornings with Mum and vegemite toast? Australian Breakfast all the way!

You can shop The Tea Centre’s range of delightful breakfast blends here. Happy sipping! 

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