English breakfast tea is a black tea blend that is widely consumed in British and Irish tea culture. This blend is usually described as full-bodied, robust, and rich, making it the perfect complement to milk and sugar, traditionally associated with a hearty English breakfast. It is made from a combination of black teas from Assam, Ceylon, and Kenya.
The history of English breakfast tea is a bit unclear, but its popularity dates back to the late 18th century, with a blend of black teas being consumed at breakfast in Britain and Ireland. The term “breakfast tea” has been used since that time by vendors selling tea blends.
One story of the origins of the blend credits a New York tea merchant, Richard Davies, who created a blend of Congou, Pekoe, and Pouchong teas in 1843. It became very popular, and imitators led to the blend’s popularity, with Bohea teas being known in the United States as “English Breakfast” tea.
In the UK, the Queen Victoria is credited with popularizing breakfast tea. She tasted a blend during a visit to Balmoral in 1892 and brought it back to London with her. Despite the tea’s Scottish origin, the generic blend subsequently acquired the prefix “English.”