Ever wondered about the magic that happens when you sip your morning tea? I’m here to spill the tea on how to make English tea, a staple at English breakfast tables for more than 80 years.
A blend of Assam black tea, Ceylon tea, and Kenyan tea, this rich and tangy brew, often served with milk or lemon, takes a deep red color when infused and is high in caffeine.
With a soothing aroma and slight notes of raisins, it’s more than just a drink – it’s a tradition that’s been comforting us for decades.
So, join me as we dive into the world of English tea, learn how to make it, how to drink it, and explore the perfect additions to this classic beverage.
How To Make English Tea With Milk
Considering how to make English breakfast tea might be easy than you think. To brew the perfect cup of English breakfast tea, you’ll need a few essential tools and ingredients:
- A kettle or pot for boiling water
- A teaspoon for measuring
- Tea (either in loose-leaf form or teabags)
- A tea diffuser if you’re using loose leaves
- A teapot or mug, and optional add-ins like milk and sugar.
STEP 1: Getting Your Tea and Teaware Ready
Get your tea and teapot ready as the water heats up. For loose-leaf English tea, use 1 teaspoon per cup, adding an extra teaspoon for the pot. For everyday English tea with teabags, one teabag per mug will do.
STEP 2: Pouring the Water
Once the water reaches boiling point, slowly pour it over the tea. Stir to ensure all the tea leaves or teabag are fully immersed in the boiling water.
STEP 3: Boiling Water
Tart by filling your kettle or pot with fresh water for each tea steeping. The quality of water impacts the overall taste of your tea. Aim to heat the water to at least 200 degrees F.
STEP 4: Waiting
Patience is key in brewing. Allow a minute or two for a cup of tea, and at least 3-5 minutes for a pot, to let the flavors fully develop.
STEP 5: Taking Out the Teabag or Tea Leaves
After steeping, remove the teabag or tea leaves. Remember not to squeeze the teabag as it can release bitterness.
STEP 6: Adding Milk
Add milk or sugar to taste. The perfect English breakfast tea has a dark brown-orange hue, similar to American coffee.
STEP 7: Savoring Your Ideal Cup of Tea
Grab a biscuit or cake if you’d like, and take a moment to savor your perfect cup of English tea.
This is how you make English breakfast tea the British way. It’s a simple process that can yield a brew rich in flavor and tradition.
Some Notes of Brew English Breakfast Tea
When brewing the perfect cup of English tea, I’ve found there are a few key notes worth remembering:
Note on Water Quality: The water you use can significantly impact the taste of your tea. I recall an occasion at my home in London, one winter morning in 2022, when I used tap water instead of the filtered water I usually opt for. The tea tasted noticeably different – it had a metallic aftertaste that was not pleasant. So, always ensure you use fresh and clean water for your brew.
Brewing Time: Steeping time is crucial in making English tea. Allowing the tea to steep for the right time (a minute or two for a cup and at least 3-5 minutes for a pot) helps fully develop the flavors. Rushing this step can result in a strong brew that needs the distinctively rich and tangy flavor of English breakfast tea.
Milk and Sugar: English breakfast tea recipe is often accompanied by milk or sugar. However, how much you add depends on personal preference.
Tea Presentation: A good presentation can enhance your tea-drinking experience. In a March 2023 PowerPoint I presented in Manchester, I emphasized the significance of using clean, warm teapots to keep English breakfast tea at its perfect temperature of 95°C. You can achieve this by stopping the kettle just before it boils or using a temperature-controlled kettle.
English Milk Tea: English milk tea is a slightly different variant where milk plays a more significant role. It’s richer and creamier, and making it requires a slightly different approach. I have a detailed English milk tea recipe and presentation available if you want to explore this further.
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How to Drink English Breakfast Tea
English tea is often served with biscuits, hot cross buns, scones, or quick bread like tea or banana bread. For a fancier experience, you can have afternoon tea, featuring finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and baked treats.
- Enjoy it hot: English breakfast tea is best served, allowing you to fully appreciate its rich, tangy flavor and comforting aroma. This warmth makes English breakfast tea with milk a classic favorite.
- Savor the flavor: Take a moment to taste the tea. The blend of Assam black tea, Ceylon tea, and Kenyan tea lends an unmatched, unique flavor.
- Use appropriate teaware: Traditional tea etiquette suggests using a teacup. However, a mug works just as well on casual days for enjoying your brew.
- Enjoy in company: English breakfast tea is often at the heart of English tea parties, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and comfort. And it would only be teatime with a staple teatime treat.
What to Put in English breakfast tea ingredients?
Crafting the perfect cup of English breakfast tea involves more than just boiling water and steeping tea leaves.
Here’s what I recommend adding for the best flavor:
The typical addition to English breakfast tea is milk, which imparts a creamy texture that enhances the tea’s robust flavor. My milk tea recipe aims for a perfect blend of tea and milk, resulting in a rich, dark brown-orange hue.
Sugar or Honey
Add sugar or honey to your English breakfast tea, depending on your sweetness preference. Both work well to offset the tea’s bitterness and enhance its rich flavor.
While less common than milk, adding a slice of lemon to your English breakfast tea can offer a refreshing twist. The tartness of the lemon adds a bright note to the robust tea flavor.
Biscuits or Scones
As I mentioned, English breakfast tea is often accompanied by a biscuit, scone, or other teatime treat. This isn’t just tradition—a wonderful flavor combination that makes the tea-drinking experience even more enjoyable.
Variety in Tea Selection
While English breakfast tea is the star of the show, it’s not uncommon for an afternoon tea session to feature a variety of teas. Green tea, for instance, serves as a lighter, more refreshing alternative that can be enjoyed alongside English breakfast tea.
Steeping time and temperature are key factors in achieving the perfect brew. English breakfast tea should be steeped for about 3-5 minutes at around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust to taste, and enjoy the art of English tea making!
Some famous brands that produce English Breakfast Tea include:
- Taylors of Harrogate: Known for its balanced flavors, this brand is a favorite among Twining’s fans.
- Teapigs Morning Glory: This English Breakfast Tea was the winner in a round of tastings conducted by Epicurious.
- Yorkshire Tea: This northern brand with a long tea-brewing history is another great choice for English Breakfast Tea lovers.
- Twinings: One of the world’s most recognizable tea brands, Twinings delivers a delightful breakfast tea blend.
- PG Tips: This brand is among the most famous British tea brands, alongside Taylors of Harrogate, Typhoo, and Lyon teas.
- VAHDAM Classic English Breakfast Black Tea: If you prefer loose-leaf tea, VAHDAM is a great choice for English Breakfast Tea.
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How is real English tea made?
English tea, especially English breakfast tea, involves steeping fine tea leaves in boiling water at roughly 200°F for 3-5 minutes to suit your taste. You can enhance it with milk, sugar, or a hint of lemon and pair it with a biscuit or scone for the quintessential tea experience.
Why do the British put milk in their tea first?
The British tradition of adding milk first dates back to when porcelain tea cups could crack from the heat of boiling water. Adding milk first could cool the tea and prevent the cups from cracking. Today, it’s more about taste preference.
How is tea made in London?
Tea making in London follows the same general process as the traditional English tea-making method. The tea leaves are steeped in freshly boiled water, then milk or lemon is added according to taste. Tea in London is often enjoyed with a biscuit or another sweet treat, especially during afternoon tea sessions. Varieties like English breakfast tea and green tea are popular choices.
Is English tea just black tea?
While English breakfast tea, a common type of English tea, is black tea, not all English tea is black tea. English breakfast tea blends Assam black, Ceylon, and Kenyan tea. However, other types of tea, such as green tea, can also be enjoyed in England, especially during afternoon tea sessions.
How long to steep english breakfast tea?
Steeping time for English Breakfast tea is 3 to 5 minutes depending on how delicious and powerful you want your breakfast tea, steep less or more. However, you can adjust the steeping time to your preference for a milder or stronger flavor in your morning tea.
I’m Shanna, creator of Spiritea Drinks. I’m all about teaching people to grow their own food, tea, cook what they harvest, and eat with the seasons.