Breakfast teas are a blend, usually made from Assam tea, a black tea with a higher caffeine level. They are intended to accompany a hearty breakfast and are usually consumed with milk and sugar. They are more robust than an afternoon tea. BUt is there a difference between English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, or Scottish Breakfast tea?
There are two theories about the origin of English Breakfast tea.
In the 17th and early 18th centuries, breakfast was a protein-heavy meal with meat, beans, eggs, bread, and ale. Supposedly Queen Anne was the first to ask for hot tea as a lighter start to her day, and her subjects followed suit. Tea quickly became a breakfast staple.
Another theory is that tea would have been originally been imported from China, but during the Opium Wars (1839-1860), Britain imposed a trade embargo on tea. However, the British East India Co. had also just begun producing Assam tea. As black tea stocks from China dwindled, it was blended with the Assam tea. Toward the end of the 19th century, Ceylon tea was also being produced in Sri Lanka, and was added to the blend, creating what we now recognize as English Breakfast tea.
Irish Breakfast tea also has a strong Assam component, which gives it a rich and malty flavor. It is reddish in colour, and likely became popular in Ireland during the Opium Wars.
Scottish Breakfast Tea tends to be the heartiest. In 1892, Scottish tea master, Drysdale, created a stronger blend, which also took into account the softer water conditions in Scotland. It is also predominantly Assam tea.
There is no standard rule for blending breakfast teas, so it’s important to choose your favourite breakfast blend based on flavour rather than name.