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101 West Marcy Street
Santa Fe, NM, 87501
United States


Luxury loose leaf teas, handcrafted tea blends and fine tea ware. ArtfulTea: where the ordinary experience of drinking tea becomes extraordinary.

Tea Wisdom

Irish Breakfast Tea

Karen Gardiner

A cup of Irish Breakfast tea with milk and tea leaves

What is Irish Breakfast Tea?

Irish Breakfast is a strong, hearty black tea blend with a bold, malty flavor. While this blend originated in Ireland, it’s now a popular favorite all over the world. Our Irish Breakfast contains a robust blend of Indian and Tanzanian black teas, and pairs well with milk and sugar. If you’re in the mood for a rich black breakfast blend, Irish Breakfast is sure to do the trick!

Irish Breakfast History

Irish Breakfast tea is a hearty breakfast blend originating from Ireland. In terms of tea consumption, Ireland is the second-largest country in the world per capita. Irish breakfast is often taken with milk and sugar for a hearty, warming cup of tea that’s perfect to start the day with. In Ireland, Irish Breakfast is often consumed throughout the day (not just at breakfast!)

While tea originated in China and is now grown primarily in China, India, and African counties like Kenya and Tanzania, tea culture also has a rich history in the British Isles. Here at ArtfulTea, our customers often ask us about the various breakfast tea blends they've encountered, particularly Irish Breakfast, English Breakfast, and Scottish Breakfast. While the origins of breakfast blends are not entirely clear, 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 alongside a hearty 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.

Irish Breakfast typically contains Assam, a black tea grown near sea level in the Assam region of India and known  for it's strong malty flavor and bright coppery color. Which Assam is usually the main component of the blend, Irish Breakfast may also include other Indian black teas, as well as black teas from countries like Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Irish breakfast is often finely ground, allowing the tea leaves to fully infuse the water for a rich, dark cup of tea. Today, Irish breakfast is consumed not only in Ireland, but also all over the world!

Irish Breakfast tea leaves on a dish

Irish Breakfast vs. English Breakfast: What’s the Difference?

Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast teas are typically composed of similar tea blends, usually a mix of Indian black teas along with the addition of teas from places like China, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. Irish Breakfast is usually composed primarily of Assam, while English Breakfast may include a higher ratio of mellower Chinese black teas. Irish Breakfast tea is usually stronger and heartier than English Breakfast, and is often more finely ground, resulting in a deep, dark cup. While still a strong black tea, English Breakfast is somewhat milder and brews up a lighter copper color.

One potential factor contributing to the differences between Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast is the quality of the water in the two regions. In Ireland, the water was traditionally considered to be hard, which was better served by a hearty Assam-based breakfast tea. In England, the water was softer, and breakfast blends tended to include a combination of Indian and Chinese black teas. Today, the initial considerations due to water quality have contributed to the rise of similar but distinct varieties of breakfast blends. While English and Irish Breakfast teas share many of the same characteristics, the main difference is that Irish Breakfast is an even darker, heartier version of a breakfast blend.

Irish Breakfast Health Benefits

Like other black teas, Irish Breakfast contains a variety of health benefits, and is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Irish Breakfast contains one of the highest caffeine levels of all black teas, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking for a warming, stimulating cup to start your day with. Despite this, however, a cup of Irish Breakfast only contains about half the caffeine of a typical cup of coffee, so many people can consume several cups without having to worry about the adverse effects of too much caffeine.

Irish Breakfast is also high in antioxidants, which help to promote cellular health and ward off degenerative diseases like cancer by reducing free radicals within the body. Like other teas produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, Irish Breakfast also contains l-theanine, a beneficial compound that helps to reduce stress and promote calm and clarity. Irish breakfast is good for the hair and skin, and is a good source of hydration for the body.

How to Prepare Irish Breakfast Tea

To prepare Irish Breakfast, we recommend using one level teaspoon of tea for every six ounces of water. Heat the water until it reaches a full boil (approximately 212 degrees.) Pour the water over the leaves and steep for three to four minutes. Enjoy this tea on its own, or add milk and sugar for a classic take on Irish Breakfast. Because this tea is so strong, we find that you can infuse the leaves a second or even third time without sacrificing flavor.

Our Irish Breakfast

There are nearly as many different blends of Irish and English Breakfast tea as there are tea purveyors, all with a slightly different combination of Indian teas like Assam as well as teas from countries like China, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. Here at ArtfulTea, our Irish Breakfast 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.

We particularly recommend Irish Breakfast if you’re looking for a rich, hearty, highly caffeinated tea. Whether you’re looking to switch from coffee or just enjoy the strong, malty flavor of a good breakfast blend, our Irish Breakfast is sure to hit the spot!