The Battle Of Irish vs English Breakfast Tea

If you’ve decided to ditch your morning cappuccino for a cup of tea, you may be wondering which to opt for when it comes to Irish vs EnglishBreakfast tea. Read on to find out the difference between these two blends.

Irish vs English Breakfast tea
Irish vs. English Breakfast tea

Since tea beverages typically contain less caffeine than coffee drinks, you may be considering ditching your morning cappuccino in favor of a cup of breakfast tea. Doing so will provide you with many health benefits since tea contains powerful antioxidants.

If you’ve decided to become a tea drinker, you may be wondering what the difference is when it comes to Irish Breakfast tea vs. English Breakfast tea. In short, although both tea blends provide a full-bodied cup of tea, Irish Breakfast tea is stronger.

Read on to find out more about the differences between these two blends.

Interesting Breakfast Tea Facts

Before we take a look at the great Irish breakfast tea vs. English breakfast tea debate, let’s first look at a few interesting facts about this classic morning beverage.

  • Tea has been around for eons. Since 2737 BC, according to Chinese legend. Nowadays, it’s a popular hot beverage.
  • Every 24 hours, over 159 million Americans sip on a cuppa. There are more than 1,000 varieties of tea.
  • The most common classifications are black, oolong, white, and green tea. When we narrow things down to Irish vs. English breakfast tea, which comes out on top?

What Is Breakfast Tea?

A black tea drink that’s more often than not consumed with milk. Sugar as well, if that’s your preference.

Hot tea is comforting and warming, so it’s no wonder global tea revenue is expected to grow each year by 6.9% until 2023.

Now, in terms of the tea leaves themselves, Assam, Kenyan, Ceylon, or Chinese could mean. But, of course, they sometimes come from Indonesia, as well.

Breakfast tea is usually a blend. The result is a full-bodied cup of tea that can be richer, lighter, or more aromatic, depending on the ratios.

What’s the flavor profile of each type?

  • Assam tea: hailing from India, this one is robust and malty with an intense, bright color
  • Kenyan tea: African in origin, it’s a full-bodied and earthy option.
  • Ceylon tea: winging its way from Sri Lanka, you’ll find this variety of light and fragrant
  • Chinese tea: this Asian variation – usually Keemun – is mild, deep, and earthy
  • Indonesian tea: often from Java or Sumatra, the flavor is bold with moderate caffeine

These days, breakfast blends are consumed at any time of the day. Not just with your cereal or Full English, but being generally high in caffeine still makes it the ideal choice for that morning jumpstart.

As a cheeky little side note, breakfast tea is probably the most mixable when it comes to whizzing up a cocktail. It works well with aged spirits such as whisky and cognac, gin, and vodka too.

And it holds its own with spices. Chai tea, anyone?

Now for the Irish vs English breakfast tea head-to-head.

What Is an English Breakfast Tea?

Irish vs English Breakfast Tea
Cup of English tea with milk

This well-known hot drink consists of a mixture of strong black teas. There’s no fixed ratio or recipe.

Different tea manufacturers use their own blends to include Assam, Kenya, Ceylon, China, and Indonesia leaves. There are tons of combinations.

Sipping on English breakfast tea is a centuries-old British custom. It’s thought that Catherine of Braganza from Portugal brought the beverage to England when she married King Charles II in 1662.

Afternoon tea was customary at first. But by the mid-18th century, a stronger version was being drunk at breakfast too.

The style of the blend has its origins in New York. Rewind to 1834: British immigrant Richard Davies started a tea company in the Big Apple. He marketed a fusion of Chinese and Indian black teas as an English breakfast tea.

The general flavor profile is strong, malty, and full-bodied to this day. But of course, each tea company produces breakfast tea with a different taste. So it depends on their own specific blend.

What Is an Irish Breakfast Tea?

irish tea vs english tea
An Irish-style tea break with soda farl and jam

This type has its roots in Ireland, with Samuel Bewley. Back in the mid-18th century, Irish breakfast tea was the drink of the wealthy.

It was expensive and only available to people with money. So you could call it a status symbol.

Why, you may ask? Partly because tea was grown in far-flung continents. And only a handful of small firms, such as the British East India Company, controlled its movement across the ocean.

Shipping costs were subject to weighty tariffs as well. Enter Samuel Bewley.

In 1935, he decided to directly import 2,099 chests of tea from Canton in China to Dublin. That risky and bold move paid off.

A workable supply line was established in cutting out the middleman, and tea costs fell. Fast forward to the 19th century, and tea had become a popular drink across all classes in Ireland.

But what does it taste like?

The variety is predominantly Assam tea. So it leans towards a more robust, rich, and malty flavor.

But remember, depending on the brand you purchase, some types may include loose-leaf tea from Ceylon, for example. Or Kenya. Or both.

Whatever the blend, drink it strong with plenty of milk. While we’re talking breakfast tea, let’s not forget to mention the Scottish variety briefly.

The lesser-known cousin tends to be the strongest of the three. It’s thought to have originated with a tea master named Drysdale.

He saw a need for a heartier version of English breakfast tea and made it his mission to create a new blend. Since then, modern tea enthusiasts in Scotland have produced an even stronger type to cope with the country’s soft water.

Taste-wise, it’s woody and can be smoky too. And it’s heavy on Assam.

Comparing Irish Breakfast Tea Vs. English Breakfast Tea

                 Irish Breakfast Tea            English Breakfast Tea
An Irish Breakfast tea has a strong Assam component and may even consist solely of Assam tea.English Breakfast tea mostly contains Ceylon, Indian, and African tea leaves.
Typically, Irish Breakfast tea is primarily made up of Asam and perhaps one other tea.An English Breakfast blend contains at least two and up to four, different teas.
Irish Breakfast tea is typically stronger than English Breakfast tea.Although English Breakfast tea is strong, it is lighter than Irish Breakfast tea.
Assam contains more caffeine than many other tea varieties, including Ceylon.English Breakfast tea typically contains a little less caffeine than Irish Breakfast tea.

The Final Word on Irish vs English Breakfast Tea

Tea is the second most popular drink globally, with water coming in first. So there are a lot of tea drinkers out there.

And many different types, from black to herbal tea. So what’s the deal in terms of Irish vs. English breakfast tea?

Both are black tea blends with their roots in history. The truth is, they can be quite similar, depending on the brand you buy.

One manufacturer’s Irish breakfast tea could be the same or similar to another’s English breakfast tea. Generally, Irish breakfast tea has a strong Assam component, making it the richer, maltier choice than English breakfast tea.

It comes down to the flavor profile you prefer. Rich, malty, aromatic, delicate, earthy?


  • Laura E

    Laura Evans is a sucker for the smell of freshly ground coffee beans and won't say no to a steaming mug of amber-hued Thai tea.