ArtfulTea customers often ask about the various breakfast tea blends they've encountered, from the well-known English Breakfast to the less familiar Canadian Breakfast. The origins of breakfast blends are a bit of a controversy in the tea world. Some tea historians attribute the start of what we now called "breakfast tea" to Queen Anne, who made it fashionable to drink tea instead of ale with breakfast. Others date the breakfast tea phenomenon to about a hundred years ago when a Scottish tea merchant in Edinburgh created a very stout blend to go with the traditionally heavy morning meal. Queen Victoria is said to have loved a Scottish blend of tea and English tea companies quickly began creating their own blends, dubbing them "English Breakfast" tea. Referring to blends as "breakfast tea" from a specific country caught on, particularly in the U.S.
In his well-researched book New Tea Lover's Treasury: The Classic True Story of Tea, James Norwood Pratt tells us "Tradition is on a firmer footing with blends sold in the US and UK as 'Irish Breakfast' which always contains a high proportion of malty Assam, though nobody seems sure just when the Irish acquired this preference." Assam, known for it's strong malty flavor and bright orange-brown color, is a black tea grown near sea level in the state of Assam, India.
One reason given for the different kinds of breakfast blends is that tea masters consider many factors in blending tea, including the quality of water in a given place. In Ireland, where the water was traditionally considered to be hard, using Assam as a base tea was found to work well. The Irish, however, don't call what they drink "Irish Breakfast" tea – it is simply "tea" and is consumed throughout the day. On average the Irish consume 4–6 cups of tea daily, placing them among the top tea consumers in the world.
There are nearly as many different blends of Irish and English Breakfast tea as there are tea purveyors, so you may want to try several to find the blend that suits you. The Irish Breakfast at ArtfulTea is a blend of organic Assam and Tanzanian black teas rolled into tiny granules creating a very robust and hearty tea with a deep auburn hue. Irish breakfast is traditionally enjoyed with milk and/or sweetener and will certainly deliver a boost any time of day.