You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t a fan of English breakfast tea. While we all have our favorites, we don’t think anyone will say no if offered a cup of this widely popular hot drink. Of course, the idea of ‘English Breakfast Tea’ conjured up images of fancy English nobility and biscuits, but there is also a whole lot more to it that you might not know.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at English breakfast tea to explore a little more about its origins, and of course to rank our favorites. Got your dressing gown on? Ok, let’s do it.
Why is it called English breakfast tea?
Before we get into it, you might be wondering where English Breakfast tea gets its name from. Well, funnily enough, the name didn’t originate in England: the name was actually coined in New York City! Like with most names that stick, it actually came from a marketing campaign in 1984, started by a British immigrant called Roger Davies. After discovering that combining Chinese and Indian leaves ended up with a delicious tea, he began to sell it on a larger scale, under the theme of ‘English breakfast’.
As its popularity grew, people begun to wonder where it came from, and hearing that it was invested by a Brit, the name ‘English Breakfast Tea’ began to stick: and continues to do so today! Of course, that’s the short version, but the next time someone mentions English breakfast tea, you’ll be able to drop this little factoid.
Where do the different types of English breakfast tea come from?
Like many other teas, English breakfast tea is made by blending a bunch of different full bodied black teas from around the world. After the best loose leaves are chosen by respective tea masters and experts, a rich and bold flavor is achieved with a dark appearance. And, because of the fact that the leaves used to make different English breakfast teas come from different places, you’ll notice that there is actually more variety in the taste than you might think.
The majority of black teas used in English breakfast tea are made in four major regions, including China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka. Let’s take a closer look
As one of the most well-known producers of the best tea in the world, China is known for growing many different varieties, including Keemun black tea – which is the most common leaf used in English breakfast tea. Not only experts in green tea, China produces high quality black teas to be exported around the world, with a variety of different flavors and blends.
With their Keemun tea, they are able to offer dark and smoky flavors that go perfectly with a bit of milk to round off. And for those of you with more intricate palates, you may even notice notes of malt and roast when you have your next cup.
As one of the other most well-known tea producers in the world, India is no stranger to English breakfast teas. As we all know, India was formerly a British colony which undoubtedly increased the rate of local tea production. The climate is also extremely favorable, with warm weather and rich soil compositions well suited for growing English breakfast tea leaves.
Assam tea is one of the main types of tea that’s grown in India, and is made from a variant of a plant called Camellia Sinensis Var Assamica. This particular tea leaf has a strong flavor with a smooth aftertaste that proves to be very popular amongst Earl Grey drinkers as well.
Teas that are produced in Africa are not as well-known as others, as they are often re-sold in sachets or tea bags. This is because the most popular production method uses a cultivation method that grinds up the leaves upon picking, resulting in a more bitter flavor. If you prefer stronger teas, then Kenya is the producer for you!
You’ve probably heard of Ceylon tea, but might not have known that it actually comes from Sri Lanka, another former British colony. The flavor profile of Ceylon teas and other English breakfast tea varieties from Sri Lankan producers do vary depending on their production methods, but do share some broad characteristics.
Generally, English breakfast tea leaves from Sri Lanka have a more nutty and citrus-like flavor, with a more moderate flavor and golden hue. Although Ceylon tea bags aren’t hard to find, the best tea options from Sri Lanka are typically more loose-leaf.
Buying your English breakfast tea
The best English breakfast teas usually follow the same pattern of quality, but of course we all have our own preferences. If you’re looking to buy a hearty English breakfast tea, here are a few things you’re going to want to think about for your next breakfast blend of black tea.
Do you want loose leaf or tea bags?
The taste of black teas will change depending on whether they are loose leaf or come in a tea bag. While loose leaf English breakfast tea takes a little more work and requires the use of infusers, the taste is usually a little fresher than tea bags. However, it’s really up to you!
What kind of taste are you looking for?
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which kind of tea you like: it needs to taste good! Like other types of tea, English breakfast tea has its own varieties which have their own flavor types. If you’re just starting out, we recommend trying out different types to see which one you like the best.
Also, it’s a good idea to use minimal milk and sugar to get a true idea of how things taste, so don’t go crazy with the added flavors until you’ve found your favorite. One other thing we want to mention is that if your tea has an acrid or strange smell, you might have one that’s been produced around pesticide or other added chemicals. Your English breakfast tea must smell fresh, earthy and soothing!
Then, you need to think about whether or not you like full-bodied flavors, or whether you prefer something lighter to add milk and sugar to.
What brand do you go for?
The world of tea is huge, and there are a lot of different brands out there. But which English breakfast tea brand is the best? Well, while this depends on your individual taste preferences and budget, there are certain things you’re going to want to keep in mind.
For instance, the more popular English breakfast tea brands are likely to have higher quality, and more customer ratings if you’re buying online. You’ll be ok with any brand really,, as long as you aren’t choosing one that’s known to be ‘cheap’ or ‘discount’
If you’re not sure which one to go for, then our list of the best English tea brands will help you out. So, without further ado, here are our recommendations!
Our pick of English breakfast tea brands at a glance
We will go into more detail below, but if you want us to cut to the chase, here they are. However, we do recommend reading on, just so that you can make the best possible choice for your next cup of breakfast tea.
|Name and link||Taste||One-line review||Best for:|
|Twinings English Breakfast Tea||Rounded||Widely available and loved, this is a brand that you can trust to deliver quality.||Fans of Twinings and more balanced flavors.|
|Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold||Smooth||Really tasty and smooth, expertly blended and delicious to drink.||Those who don’t like black teas that are too bitter.|
|Tazo Awake English Breakfast||Full bodied||Specially blended to give your mornings a kick, with a strong and rich flavor.||People who need a little help waking up.|
|Harney & Sons Black Tea||Aromatic||Comes with an attractive tin and made from hand-picked Keenum black tea for a rich full taste.||Fans of decorate packaging and gift-givers.|
|PG Tips||Fresh||A supermarket and household staple that is everything English tea should be.||People looking for no-nonsense and decent black tea.|
|Taylors of Harrogate||Creamy||Socially aware and environmentally conscious, this is a great black tea blend that supports the growers.||Ethically-conscious black tea drinkers,|
|Fortnum & Mason British Tea||Complex||High quality blend with a higher price. This is a serious loose-leaf tea for expert drinkers, with a distinct flavor and aroma.||People who prefer to brew their own whole leaf tea.|
Best famous – Twinings English Breakfast Tea
Even if you’re not a tea person, you would have heard of Twinings. They are one of the biggest tea brands in the world, and their English breakfast tea lives up to their name. Coming with a hefty 100 tea bags, this box of Twinings English breakfast tea is great for any time of the day, and has a rich and full bodied taste that doesn’t veer too far into bitter territory. You can’t do much better for your next cup of tea.
Best rounded taste – Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold
By using a blend of tea leaves from leading farms in Assam, Rwanda and Kenya, Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold is an English breakfast tea with a golden color, and a wonderfully bright taste. Rich-tasting and obviously high-quality we recommend Yorkshire Gold for people who prefer more balanced flavors, or are beginners to English breakfast teas in general.
Best for mornings – Tazo awake English breakfast
While all English breakfast teas (it’s in the name) are good for the mornings, Tazo’s Awake English Tea has that extra zing to really get you going. It has a big, bold malty flavor and uses a great blend of strong hand picked black teas to give a decent kick. If you’re a fan of full bodied black teas, this is a great choice. And, if you enhance with an addition of milk or sugar, you can still enjoy a strong taste.
Best fancy – Harney & Sons Black Tea
We all judge books by their covers. Or, tea brands by their packaging at least. This is a premium black tea that not only tastes amazing, but exudes that English poshness that you might enjoy.
Coming in an attractive tin, these English breakfast tea bags contain a Keenum blend that has a rounded flavor that’s good for any time of day. And, since it comes in a tin it’s the perfect gift for any family or friends looking to feel a little fancier with their cup of tea.
Best budget – PG Tips
Budget doesn’t have to mean low-quality – which is more than proven by PG tips. These are a supermarket staple in England and are a supremely popular choice for mainstream English breakfast tea drinkers who just want a full bodied and tasty cuppa without the bells and whistles. And, with their pyramid tea bag designs, PG tips is one of the best breakfast tea blends with a reasonable steeping time.
Best ethical – Taylors of Harrogate
Some teas are more socially and environmentally conscious than others. If you’re a tea lover who prefers to know that your English breakfast tea bags have come from a good place, Taylors of Harrogate has you covered.
They work with growing partners to ensure that their black teas are sustainably sourced, support local workers and are environmentally conscious. And, of course, they taste fantastic too.
Best loose leaf – Fortnum & Mason British Tea
If you prefer whole leaf English breakfast tea, then this is one of the best you can find. Although the price is a little higher than most, you’ll definitely get the quality you’re paying for. And, because it’s loose tea, you can know that your drink will be more natural-tasting and full-bodied because the leaves will be able to swirl around and brew properly.
This English breakfast tea has a smooth, honey-like flavor that is somehow both bold and delicate at the same time. Just wonderful for serious English tea drinkers and even Earl Grey tea lovers.
Your breakfasts just got a whole lot better
As a tea lover, you now know a little more about English breakfast tea and can have a whole new appreciation for those mornings where you can take your time and enjoy yourself with great tasting tea.
The teas on this list are just a few of our favorites: we could list hundreds of fantastic English breakfast tea choices for you to try. If you have something you feel is missing from your list, just get in touch and we’ll make sure to update if we agree. Ok, time to grab your milk and sugar and out the kettle on!
Last update on 2021-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API