Cup of English Breakfast Tea in a cup and saucer with flower prints and gold spoon

The Origins of English Breakfast Tea: A Timeless Tradition


English Breakfast tea, with its robust flavor and invigorating properties, is a beloved beverage that has earned a cherished place in the hearts of tea enthusiasts worldwide. This iconic blend is a staple of British culture and has become a quintessential morning ritual for many. But have you ever wondered about the intriguing history behind this aromatic brew? In this article, we will delve into the fascinating origins of English Breakfast tea and its journey from China to the tea cups of England.

The Roots in China

The story of English Breakfast tea begins in the lush tea gardens of China during the early 19th century. British traders and explorers were enchanted by the rich flavors of Chinese black teas, especially those from regions like Keemun and Yunnan. The distinct robustness and full-bodied character of these teas inspired the creation of what would later be known as English Breakfast tea.
As the demand for Chinese tea grew in Britain, the East India Company, one of the leading players in the tea trade, set out to develop a blend that would suit the British palate. The idea was to create a hearty, strong tea that could withstand the addition of milk and sugar, making it an ideal choice for the traditional British breakfast.

English Breakfast Tea

The Birth of a Classic Blend

The precise moment when English Breakfast tea was first concocted remains shrouded in mystery, but it is widely believed to have emerged in the early 19th century. It is said that in the 1840s, a Scottish tea master named Drysdale played a pivotal role in refining the blend. He carefully selected and blended various black teas, including Assam, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Kenyan teas, to achieve the desired boldness and robust flavor profile.

The Blend's Remarkable Journey

With its bold flavor and the ability to pair harmoniously with milk and sugar, English Breakfast tea quickly gained popularity among the British populace. It became an integral part of the daily routine, especially at breakfast, giving rise to its name.
The blend's success wasn't limited to Britain alone. As trade routes expanded and global demand for tea surged, English Breakfast tea found its way to various corners of the world. Its popularity transcended borders, earning it a revered status among tea enthusiasts internationally.

Modern Variations

Over the years, the original English Breakfast blend has undergone several variations and adaptations. Different tea estates and regions have put their unique spin on the classic blend, resulting in a diverse array of English Breakfast teas. Some may incorporate more Assam for a robust kick, while others may include a blend of Ceylon and Kenyan teas for a nuanced flavor profile.


English Breakfast tea's journey from the tea gardens of China to becoming a staple in British households and beyond is a testament to its enduring appeal. Its rich, full-bodied flavor and versatility have made it a beloved choice for tea lovers worldwide.
As you savor a cup of this timeless brew, take a moment to appreciate the centuries of history and tradition that have contributed to its distinctive taste. English Breakfast tea is more than just a beverage; it is a cultural icon that continues to bring comfort and joy to countless tea enthusiasts around the globe.

© virtosmedia, 123RF Free Images
Back to blog
1 of 3