What is English Breakfast Tea? Characteristics, Ingredients, Tastes & More

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is English breakfast tea?”, or “What is in english breakfast tea?”

If so, you’re in the right place! I’ve spent countless hours exploring the world of teas, and English Breakfast tea holds a special place in my heart.

Its robust flavor, fascinating history, and cultural significance are just a few aspects that make it truly unique.

In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the enchanting journey of English breakfast tea, explaining why it has been the morning drink of choice for many people worldwide.

what is English tea

We’ll explore its origins, the name “English breakfast tea,” and its health benefits. We’ll also delve into its significance in British culture, examine popular brands, and offer flavor-enhancing tips for your cup.

Content Summary
English Breakfast Tea is a Black tea blend with origins in Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya, popular in British and Irish tea cultures. It’s known for its full-bodied flavor and is often paired with milk and sugar.
Naming Origins
Named “English Breakfast” because it complements a hearty English breakfast. Irish Breakfast tea is similar but bolder with more Assam leaves.
Historical Background
Believed to have originated in the late 19th century during the tea-drinking boom. Scottish merchant Drysdale played a role, and Queen Victoria’s endorsement helped it gain popularity.
Described as robust, slightly sweet, bitter, and malty, making it a strong morning beverage.
Health Benefits
Contains antioxidants and caffeine, offering an energy boost. Organic blends ensure no pesticides or chemicals.
Ingredient and Unique Flavor
Made from strong black teas sourced from various regions. Low-grown plantations contribute to its robust flavor.
British Culture and Tradition
Integral to British culture, often enjoyed with milk and sugar. Introduced to English court in the 17th century by Catherina of Braganza.
Use in Mixology
Used in cocktails, especially with gin, vodka, whisky, and cognac. Versatile in mixology due to its hearty flavor profile.
Popular Brands
Mentioned popular brands like Twinings, Harney & Sons, Tazo, and Ahmad English Breakfast, each offering a unique blend and flavor.

What is English Breakfast Tea?

English breakfast tea, simply called breakfast tea, is a delectable blend of Black tea that finds its roots in Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya. It’s a crowd favorite, especially in British and Irish tea cultures, where a morning cup is almost a ritual.

What is English Breakfast Tea
What is English Breakfast Tea

This English tea blend is known for its strong, bold flavor, ideal for enjoying with milk and sugar, reminiscent of a classic English breakfast. Keemun, a premium tea, might also be a part of your luxurious blends.

Why is it called English Breakfast tea?

Because this traditional breakfast tea was crafted with one intention: to complement the hearty, robust flavors of an English breakfast. In the conventional sense, English Breakfast typically comprises a fragrant Chinese black tea like Keemun, combined with Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka and Assam tea for a richer and more refreshing taste. On the other hand, Irish Breakfast blends usually contain a higher proportion of Assam leaves, resulting in a darker, bolder, and more assertive flavor.

is english breakfast black tea

The exact date of the birth of this English tea remains a mystery. However, it’s generally believed to have originated in the late 19th century, when tea-drinking grew in popularity and tea clippers were racing across the ocean trade routes.

English tea breakfast

In English tea history, a Scottish merchant named Drysdale greatly influenced the creation of English breakfast tea. He aimed to craft a robust tea that could complement the hearty flavours of a classic English morning meal, resulting in the birth of the potent blend known as “Breakfast tea.”

what is breakfast tea

The story gets even more interesting when Queen Victoria comes into the picture. Legend has it that during a visit to Balmoral in Scotland, the queen had the chance to try this british breakfast tea. She enjoyed it so much that she took a box back to England. It wasn’t long before this hearty blend became a staple in English kitchen cupboards and eventually adopted the name England breakfast tea.

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What does English breakfast tea taste like?

English breakfast tea provides a robust taste akin to Coffee, accompanied by roasted hints. This Black tea boasts a full-bodied profile with deep undertones, incorporating elements of maltiness, bitterness, and subtle sweetness.

what does english breakfast tea taste like
English Breakfast tea taste

English breakfast tea offers a robust and slightly sweet, bitter, or malty, significantly more potent than the subtler taste of green tea. Making it an ideal morning beverage for those seeking a refreshing wake-up call.

Traditional Breakfast tea

Each blend can impart a unique flavor profile, ranging from sweet notes to a slightly bitter or malty undertone. The strength and character of a high-quality English breakfast tea shine through even when paired with traditional additions such as milk and sugar, enhancing its complex flavor rather than overpowering it.

English breakfest tea

This blend’s versatility and bold taste have made it a globally recognized tea, enjoyed by many as a staple part of their morning routine.


Similar to green tea, English breakfast teas contain a wealth of antioxidants that can help protect your body from damage by harmful free radicals. It’s also a natural source of caffeine, giving you a gentle energy boost to kickstart your day. Plus, if you opt for an organic blend, you also ensure your morning cup is free from unwanted pesticides or chemicals.

Some characteristics of English Breakfast tea in British culture


English Breakfast Tea is more than just your typical morning brew. It blends strong black English teas, often sourced from Sri Lanka, India, China, and Kenya.

English Breakfast tea ingredients

The uniqueness of this tea lies in its low-grown plantations, which range from sea level to an altitude of 500 meters. 

The combination of high temperature, low humidity, and sandy gravel soil at these elevations creates a strong, malty flavor in English Breakfast Tea. While each plantation adds its own touch, the tea’s boldness consistently sets it apart from others.

The Role in British Culture

The tradition of enjoying a blend of strong black teas at bolder breakfast goes back centuries in British culture. This hearty, full-bodied tea has become integral to the British lifestyle, often enjoyed with milk and sugar. 

British teas
British teas

The introduction of tea drinking to the English court by Catherina of Braganza in 1662 marked the beginning of Britain’s love affair with tea from england.

However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the Breakfast Tea we know today was created by Robert Drysdale, a Scottish tea master, who saw the need for a stronger morning tea to match the protein-rich traditional English breakfast​.

English Breakfast Tea and Mixology

English Breakfast Tea isn’t just for breakfast anymore! Its robust and malty character makes it a popular ingredient in cocktails.

Tea from England

Since the 1700s, tea has been a go-to ingredient in punches.

Today, bartenders often use black English breakfast tea as a base for gin and vodka cocktails.

Its hearty flavor profile also pairs well with aged spirits such as whisky and cognac, and it is a popular choice for adding depth to Chai teas or as a twist in a Toddy or Blazer cocktail.

English Breakfast Tea Brands

The world of English Breakfast Tea is colorful and diverse, with various tea lines to choose from. Each brand offers a unique blend, capturing the full essence of this beloved beverage while adding its distinct touch.

Let’s delve into the details of some popular English Breakfast Tea lines that have made their mark.

Twinings English Breakfast

Twinings, a renowned name in the tea world, stands tall with its exquisite English Breakfast Tea blend. Its popularity isn’t surprising, given the harmonious balance it achieves with some of the finest British teas.

The briskness and coppery-red color come from teas sourced from Kenya and Malawi, while Assam adds body and flavor​​. This blend ensures a perfect morning cup, rejuvenating your senses and preparing you for the day.

From personal experience, the boldness of Twinings English Breakfast Tea never fails to kickstart my mornings, and the soothing aroma makes it a calming afternoon pick-me-up as well.

Harney & Sons English Breakfast

The English Breakfast Tea from Harney & Sons boasts a rich history, its recipe tracing back to the black tea commonly consumed in England in the 1800s. This blend is a pure China Black 100% Keemun tea​, offering a classic taste that’s stood the test of time.

I recall sipping on this tea on a chilly morning, the robust flavor warming me up instantly. The tranquility it brings makes it a staple in my tea selection.

Tazo English Breakfast

Tazo, another noteworthy name in the tea industry, offers an English Breakfast Tea that is both bold and balanced. While I’m still researching Tazo’s English Breakfast Tea, I can say from personal experience that it has a distinctive flavor profile that sets it apart. Its blend creates a refreshing aroma and rich flavor that complements a hearty breakfast perfectly.

Ahmad English Breakfast

A legacy tea line, Ahmad English Breakfast, carries four generations of expertise in the UK’s family tea business. This tea line promises a remarkable blend and an unforgettable experience.

The mild spicy aroma of Ahmad English Breakfast is its signature feature, providing a delightful jolt of energy for the day ahead. As a long-time tea enthusiast, I vividly remember enjoying this tea during mid-afternoon breaks, the subtle spice adding a touch of excitement to my day.


English breakfast tea, a symbol of British black tea culture and heritage, provides a strong, comforting start to any day. Its versatility caters to diverse tastes, whether savored as a loose-leaf or from a tea bag. As you enjoy your next cup, remember that its true value lies in its taste and the tradition and sense of comfort it brings with each sip.

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Is english breakfast black tea?

English breakfast tea, a combination of black teas, is typically bolder in flavor compared to herbal teas and certain green teas. It is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. Due to its lower caffeine content than coffee, many individuals opt for this tea to promote better health and enhance their dietary habits.

What is special about English breakfast tea?

English breakfast tea stands out for its full-bodied, robust, and malty character. This distinctiveness arises from the blend of teas from various regions, contributing to its unique and cherished flavor profile.

Is English breakfast tea like coffee?

While English breakfast tea and coffee both provide a caffeinated boost, they differ significantly in taste, aroma, and the type of caffeine experience. English breakfast tea’s taste is typically more nuanced and less bitter than coffee.

Is English breakfast tea drunk with milk?

It is traditional to drink English breakfast tea with milk in many cultures, which can soften the robust flavors and add a creamy texture.

Is English breakfast tea weak?

On the contrary, English breakfast tea is known for its strong, bold flavor, offering a potent start to the day. It’s typically stronger than many other tea varieties.

Is English breakfast lemon or milk?

While milk is the traditional addition to English breakfast tea, some people enjoy it with a slice of lemon. However, the two are usually not added together, as the lemon can cause the milk to curdle.

Is Earl Grey a breakfast tea?

While Earl Grey can be enjoyed anytime, it’s not typically classified as a breakfast tea. Earl Grey is a distinct type of tea flavored with bergamot oil, whereas English breakfast tea is a blend of several black teas.

Why do the British put milk in tea?

The British tradition of adding milk to tea can be traced back to the need to prevent fine china from cracking in the heat of the boiling tea, and it also helps to mellow the strong flavors of teas like English breakfast.

Is Earl Grey a morning tea?

Earl Grey can certainly be enjoyed in the morning, but it doesn’t carry the specific ‘breakfast tea’ designation. Its unique citrusy flavor from bergamot oil makes it a refreshing choice any time of the day.

What to put in English breakfast tea? Milk or lemon

English breakfast tea is commonly enjoyed by adding a bit of milk and sugar or paired with a slice of lemon. It has a robust taste reminiscent of coffee, featuring roasted undertones. The black tea has a full-bodied character, with luscious hints of maltiness, bitterness, and a subtle sweetness.

Does English breakfast tea have milk or cream?

Traditionally, English breakfast tea is served with milk. However, some may choose to use the cream for a richer, more indulgent cup of tea, but this is rare.

Some pictures of English Breakfast Tea

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is English Breakfast Black tea
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English Breakfast Tea taste
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