English Breakfast tea is the morning staple that never disappoints. We want to help you start your morning off right, so we gathered the best English Breakfast teas from near and far to help you find your perfect sip! Plus, learn all about this classic brew, from its long history to surprising health benefits, the truth about its caffeine content, and more!
Plus, if you’ve never considered tea to have a place in happy hour, think again! Infusing tea into your cocktails creates deliciously balanced and artful combinations, and the robust English Breakfast tea is one of the most popular blends to use in tea-infused cocktail recipes.
Sips by is a personalized tea discovery subscription. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Members receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.
WHAT IS ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA?
English Breakfast tea is the morning staple that never disappoints. Occasionally overlooked, this simple, traditional blend boasts a comforting milk and honey aroma with a complex, deep flavor that’s characteristically full-bodied and rich. The taste of English Breakfast tea can even be slightly sweet with floral undertones and a strong, well-rounded malty flavor that’ll make you excited to get out of bed in the morning!
Another benefit to this classic tea is versatility — it’s delicious on its own or pairs perfectly with all of your favorite sweet and savory breakfast foods, and you can add a little milk, sugar, and lemon to the steeped treat itself or simply drink it black.
HISTORY OF ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA
The history of English Breakfast tea is a little murky, but most records show that people started taking notice of the blend around the mid-1800s. In contrast with its name, two main origin stories circulate about this specific blend yet neither of them begins in England. The first story goes that Richard Davies, a recent emigrant from England to New York, was trying to propel his new tea company to success, so he decided to blend up a unique concoction of teas and dubbed the result “English Breakfast.” To create a demand for the tasty blend, he claimed to unsuspecting New Yorkers that it was England’s hottest tea of the moment. It took off — so other tea merchants naturally tried to source the blend from England to sell themselves, but were met with the 19th century equivalent of blank stares. This didn’t inhibit the popularity of the brew, however, and word of its deliciousness eventually spread across the pond.
The second story swears that a Scottish tea merchant named Robert Drysdale crafted the blend in Scotland in the late 1800s - but it was only named “Breakfast Tea” at first until Queen Victoria discovered a love for the tea when she visited the Balmoral. She took some home with her which propelled the blend into widespread popularity and from then on it was marketed as “English Breakfast” tea to capitalize on the royal endorsement.
English Breakfast was originally made with Chinese tea, however, a trade embargo was established due to the second Opium War in 1856 which allowed more tea to be imported from the British East India Company where tea was largely being produced in Assam, India, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). These new teas proved to be popular, so in some cases, the last of the Chinese tea was blended with the new imports to make variants of English Breakfast. Now, English Breakfast tea is often made with a blend of robust black tea leaves from India, Kenya, China, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. Part of this tea’s beauty is its lack of an exact formula that allows room to find your own perfect English Breakfast blend!
Irish and Scottish Breakfast teas are slightly different varieties of this morning staple. The flavor of these three black tea blends sometimes overlap, but they can also be very distinct. While English Breakfast tea is still strong and robust, it does have the mildest flavor. In comparison, Irish Breakfast tea is a bit stronger and generally blended with more Assam teas for red color and a bigger boost in the classic robust flavor. If you’re looking for a super bold pick-me-up in the morning, Scottish Breakfast tea is considered to have the strongest flavor with woody and smoky undertones. Scottish tea masters originally crafted their version this way to counter the country’s soft water.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA
Since English Breakfast tea is a blend of black teas, it contains vitamin B which helps the body create new red blood cells, a vital component for good health. Black teas also have phosphorus and magnesium, some of the necessary nutrients for strong bones. Consistently drinking the brew is also found to be beneficial for heart health by increasing circulation and lowering your cholesterol levels. Additionally, though the research in this area is still developing, English Breakfast tea is potentially a component linked to combating cancer and kidney stones. Research also shows that the natural antioxidants in black tea fight damaging free radicals in our body which may result in slowing down or reducing signs of aging.
English Breakfast tea is an excellent alternative to drinking several cups of coffee in the morning. While drinking coffee in the morning isn’t always bad, too much caffeine in your system can lead to jittery crashes and feelings of stress or anxiety which negatively impacts your health over time. If you’re a longtime morning coffee drinker there’s no need to quit cold turkey, but since English Breakfast tea provides a healthier level of caffeine it’s a great alternative to mix into your morning a few times a week! Without milk or sugar, the beverage is practically calorie-free as well, making English Breakfast tea an excellent substitution for sugary fruit juices in the morning.
ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA VS. EARL GREY
So, what’s really the difference between Earl Grey tea and other popular blends like English Breakfast? They are both traditional British teas with a black tea base, but they each have a few key differences that set them apart from each other.
The best Earl Grey teas are traditionally a blend of Assam, Darjeeling, and Keemun black teas with a hint of bergamot oil essence. Bergamot falls somewhere between a lemon and orange with a hint of grapefruit in taste. This tea will have a soft yet robust flavor base that pairs well with the complex citrus. It depends on the blend, but most Earl Grey teas will typically have the same health benefits derived from black tea and citrus.
English Breakfast tea was crafted later in the 1800s by Robert Drysdale, a Scottish tea merchant. The main difference from Earl Grey is that English Breakfast is an unflavored blend of black teas. English Breakfast tea is likely to be stronger and have more caffeine content than Earl Grey, hence the name and why it is usually sipped in the morning. It has a hearty, malty flavor that perks you right up with its robust character and pairs well with milk and sugar.
Unlike Earl Grey, you will not find variations of English Breakfast that experiment with other types of tea or ingredients as the blend must be made with black teas such as Assam, Ceylon, Kenyan, or Keemun to retain its characteristic rich flavor. We recommend Ahmad Tea's English Tea No. 1 or their classic English Breakfast.
Now that you tea lovers know the difference, it leaves the real question: Are you team Earl Grey or English Breakfast?
DOES ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA HAVE CAFFEINE?
English Breakfast teas generally have medium to high caffeine levels, but still about half of the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. English Breakfast's relatively high caffeine levels and robust taste make it an energizing and invigorating morning ritual.
SHOP EARL GREY TEAS
Discover the best earl grey teas as rated by Sips by's 700,000 tea-loving Members. From loose leaf earl grey tea to bagged earl grey tea, these are the best earl grey teas from different tea brands around the world. Find your favorite earl grey tea, from lavender earl grey to earl grey cream, with the caffeine you need to jump start your day. No matter the type of earl grey you're searching for, Sips by has options you'll love, whether you drink your earl grey black or you make a London Fog.
Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.
About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.