What’s The Difference Between English, Irish & Scottish Breakfast Tea?

If you are just beginning to navigate the world of teas, you may be confused by the many different types of tea available. What’s the difference between breakfast teas, herbal teas and other kinds of tea? In this article, we will focus on the qualities and types of breakfast teas. We will also discuss both the distinct and subtle differences between English, Irish and Scottish breakfast tea. Read on to learn more.

What makes a breakfast tea?

Traditionally, breakfast tea is intended to go along with the full English breakfast. As you might have heard, this used to be always a heavy meal consisting mainly of fried meats such as bacon, sausages and so on. To help wash down all this meat, a strong black tea was advised.

Even though this type of breakfast is not generally favoured in health conscious modern times, traditional breakfast teas are still enjoyable on their own or coupled with a hearty meal.

Strong black breakfast teas have very high caffeine levels. This type of tea is typically drunk with milk and possibly sugar. It’s easy to see that a good, robust breakfast style tea would make a good choice for a satisfying mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

How are Irish, English & Scottish breakfast tea different?

scottish breakfast teaScottish breakfast tea is the strongest of the lot. It is very hearty, very dark and very high in caffeine content. Some speculate that this tea was originally specifically blended for the generally soft water conditions in Scotland.

Scottish breakfast teas may come from:

  • Indonesia
  • Ceylon
  • Assam
  • Africa
  • China

A good Scottish tea may consist of a single type of strong, bold tea or an artful combination of teas from any of these sources.

irish breakfast teaIrish breakfast teas are typically sourced from Assam . They are red rather than black in color and are quite strongly malt flavoured and robust. The strong malt taste can be traced to the source as the Assam region of India, located at sea level the base of the Himalayas, is known for its rich, fertile soil. The black tea grown in this region is unique and distinctive in flavor and aroma. As a standalone flavour treat, Irish tea is an excellent choice.

english breakfast teaEnglish breakfast tea was originally sourced from China. It is traditionally a pure black tea. As time passed and Britain colonised India, teas grown in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Africa came into use as English breakfast teas. All of these teas are very strong, very bold and very high in caffeine content.

You can expect good English breakfast tea to be rich and full-bodied. Traditional English breakfast tea is entirely composed of China black tea; however, modern blends are often made up of a combination of Ceylon tea and black tea. You may also find teas sourced from Indonesia, Africa and Assam in modern English breakfast tea blends.

What if you can’t taste the difference?

Sometimes it may seem that Irish and English breakfast tea are very similar, you should understand that the combination of the teas makes the difference. There has never been any specific formula for any particular blend.

Various companies create their own proprietary tea blends. Ideally, this should result in very distinctive products from individual companies; however, the opposite can be true. If one company’s Irish breakfast recipe is similar to another company’s English breakfast recipe, the result may be teas that are really very similar if not identical.

Which is best?

There is really no best or worst. It is all up to your own preferences. You may believe that a Scottish breakfast tea would be better for you if your area naturally has soft water; however, you should note that soft water is really best for all tea brewing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to use a water conditioner or filtration system to get the very best in tea brewing, no matter what kind of tea you choose.

If you like your tea with plenty of milk and sugar (i.e. Builders’ Tea) you might be best off with a Scottish tea. If you still enjoy the old-fashioned, artery clogging English breakfast, a cup of strong black English breakfast tea may just hit the spot. Irish breakfast tea seems to have a brighter and more flavourful aspect, so it might make a better choice for enjoying all on its own.

Enjoy them all!

There is certainly no law that says that you must choose one type of tea and stick to it! There are so many wonderful choices available amongst black, green and herbal teas that you would do yourself a disservice by not exploring them all. There are even some herbal teas that taste like black tea. Remember that the most important ingredient in tea is quality.

No matter what type of tea you choose, be sure to pick high quality, established brands that have been grown using organic, sustainable methods. This ensures that you will get the best flavour and the best health and wellness benefits from your tea.

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