English breakfast tea
English breakfast tea is a black tea blend usually described as full-bodied, robust, and/or rich, and blended to go well with milk and sugar, in a style traditionally associated with a hearty English breakfast. The blend is now popular as an everyday, everyman drink in England for any time of day, popular in both homes and offices. It is nicknamed builder's tea (construction workers) due to its popularity with working people.
The black teas included in the blend vary, with Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas predominating, and Keemun sometimes included in more expensive blends. Common brands of English breakfast tea include Twinings, Dilmah, Taylors of Harrogate, Ahmad Tea, Qualitea and Darvilles of Windsor. Other popular black tea brands, such as Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips and various supermarket own-brand tea blends (often marketed as 'red label'), are similar to English breakfast tea, despite not being marketed as such.
Accounts of its origins vary. Drinking a blend of black teas for breakfast is indeed a longstanding British custom. The practice of referring to such a blend as "English breakfast tea" appears to have originated not in England but America, as far back as Colonial times. An additional account (referencing a period-era Journal of Commerce article) dates the blend to 1843 and a tea merchant named Richard Davies in New York City. Davies, an English immigrant, started with a base of Congou and added a bit of Pekoe and Pouchong. It sold for 50 cents a pound, and its success led to imitators, helping to popularize the name. Another account gives its origins in Scotland, where it was initially known simply as "breakfast tea", and was in part popularised by Queen Victoria.
- Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson. "The Tea Lover's Companion: A Guide to Teas Throughout the World". London, U.K.: The National Trust. p. 54.
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