English breakfast tea

English breakfast tea or simply breakfast tea is a traditional blend of black teas originating from Assam, Ceylon and Kenya.[1] It is one of the most popular blended teas, common in British and Irish tea culture.

English breakfast tea tin
English breakfast tea, Marrickville, Sydney

English breakfast tea is a black tea blend usually described as full-bodied, robust, rich and blended to go well with milk and sugar, in a style traditionally associated with a hearty English breakfast.

The black teas included in the blend vary, with Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas predominating, and Keemun sometimes included in more expensive blends.

Origins and history

One ounce (28 g) of English breakfast tea

Accounts of its origins vary. Drinking a blend of black teas for breakfast is a longstanding British and Irish custom. The term breakfast tea has been applied by vendors since at least the late 18th century.[2][3]

The current naming practice is claimed to have originated not in England but America, as far back as Colonial times.[4] An additional account (referencing a period-era Journal of Commerce article) dates the blend to 1843 and a tea merchant named Richard Davies in New York City. Davies, an English immigrant, started with a base of Congou and added a bit of Pekoe and Pouchong. It sold for 50 cents per pound (0.45 kg) (equivalent to $14.54 per pound in 2021), and its success led to imitators, helping to popularize the name.[5] An investigation to find the original Journal of Commerce article failed to locate it but did come upon an earlier reference to the same story in an 1876 edition of the Daily Alta California, citing "a New York commercial journal" and dating the tea's origin to 1844.[6][7] In an 1884 American publication it was noted that "Bohea teas (are) known to trade in this country as "English Breakfast" tea, from its forming the staple shipment to England".[8][6]

In the UK, the popularisation of breakfast tea has been attributed in part to Queen Victoria.[9] At Balmoral in 1892 she tasted and enjoyed a blend so-named and returned to London with a supply. Despite this particular tea's Scottish origin, the generic blend subsequently acquired the prefix "English".[10][11][12][13][14][15]

See also


  1. Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson (February 2006). The Tea Lover's Companion: A Guide to Teas Throughout the World. London, U.K.: The National Trust. p. 54. ISBN 9781905400300.
  2. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001057/17860724/005/0003 via British Newspaper Archive. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000540/18380321/020/0001 via British Newspaper Archive. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ZoeAnn Holmes. "English breakfast tea – Food Resource – Oregon State University". food.oregonstate.edu. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  5. "History of the English Breakfast Tea". Logoi.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-10. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  6. "English Breakfast Tea – Evolving Blend or Invented in NYC?". 12 March 2015.
  7. "Daily Alta California 5 February 1876 — California Digital Newspaper Collection".
  8. ""A cup of tea", containing a history of the tea plant from its discovery to the present time, including its botanical characteristics ... and embracing Mr. William Saunders' pamphlet on "Tea-culture – a probable American industry"". Philadelphia : Author. 1884.
  9. O'Connor, Kaori (September 26, 2013). The English Breakfast: The Biography of a National Meal, with Recipes. A&C Black. ISBN 9780857854919 via Google Books.
  10. "English Breakfast". Marahtea.com. Archived from the original on 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  11. "A history of breakfast". Yorkshire Tea. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  12. "What is English Breakfast Tea? What does it have to do with breakfast?". MrBreakfast.com. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  13. "A brief history of Brodie, Melrose, Drysdale & Co Ltd". Brodies1867.co.uk. 2015-01-11. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  14. editor (20 January 2015). "Breakfast Tea". www.brodies1867.co.uk. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  15. Gumbrell, David (April 3, 2019). LIFT!: Going up if teaching gets you down. Critical Publishing. ISBN 9781912508518 via Google Books.
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