English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast - What's the Difference?
In the late 19th century, the English basically had two meals a day – a hearty breakfast with meat and bread, and then dinner. The Duchess of Bedford, it is said, needed an in-between meal to get her through this long period between these two meals. She began serving finger foods around 5 o’clock and thus began ‘afternoon tea’. A few years later, an enterprising Scotsman named Drysdale began marketing his black China morning tea blend as ‘breakfast tea’ and the English, being attracted to anything Chinese in those days, attached the name ‘English’ to this blend and ‘English Breakfast Tea’ was born.
Almost certainly, the first blends had China Keemun in it. Then, during the Opium Wars, China imposed an embargo on tea. England formed the British East India Company, started producing in Assam, India and breakfast teas were now blended with Assam.
There are innumerable Breakfast blends. Typically, they are all black teas and full-bodied enough for milk. The most popular are English, Irish and Scottish Breakfast. Irish Breakfast has a strong Assam component while Scottish is the strongest and usually of broken tea grades. It may well be that as tea was growing in popularity in Ireland, the East India Company was producing tea in Assam and exporting it back to England, thus making it widespread.
Although English Breakfast and other similar teas are the cup of choice in many countries, there is a large part of the world that wakes up to a cup of Green tea. The connotation of ‘breakfast tea’, however, in virtually all tea menus is one that is a robust black tea. So go on, give yourself a lift - pour yourself a nice cuppa!