One of the best things about tea is that you’ll never run out of flavors, blends or varieties to choose from. However, if you prefer strong black tea over the mild flavors of white and green tea, or even herbal teas, then there’s one type that you may love to sip on: English breakfast tea.
Despite its name, English breakfast tea is actually a delicious blend that can be enjoyed any time of the day. Not only that, but this robust beverage actually delivers a host of health benefits. Here’s what you need to know about English breakfast tea, including its history, preferred brewing methods and other interesting facts.
What Is English Breakfast Tea?
English breakfast tea is a classic black tea that is actually made from different blends of tea, such as Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon, which are derived from different locales like Sri Lanka, Kenya, China, India, and Malawi.1,2 But whatever the source, these teas have one main thing in common: They’re all made from the Camellia sinensis plant – the same plant where green, oolong and white teas are made from.
In an interview with The Kitchn, Frank Sanchez of Uptown Tea Imports, who says that the English breakfast tea started as a Chinese congou tea, gave a short overview of how this blend came to be:3
"The English started importing Chinese tea in the 17th century and then it really kicked into gear in the 18th century. Then, during the Opium Wars, China imposed an embargo on tea. Around the same time, the British East India Company started producing tea in Assam, India. For a while, the old stocks of Chinese tea were dwindling and the new stocks of Indian tea started coming in, and they were blended together.
Jump ahead to the end of the 19th century and tea was beginning to be produced in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). You started to have a stronger and stronger Ceylon component in English breakfast tea."
You may be wondering how this blend acquired its name. Typically, breakfast teas such as these are created as an accompanying beverage to the traditional English morning meal, which is hearty, rich, and often composed of foods like pork, beef and bread.4 It’s said that the strong flavor of the beverage allowed the tea drinkers to become alert and productive in the morning.5
Today, however, English breakfast tea can be enjoyed anytime of the day. It is full-bodied, robust and rich, with light and floral undertones. The aroma is reminiscent of vegetables or freshly cut plants. The higher the degree of fermentation of the leaves, the stronger the aroma becomes.6,7 This drink can be blended with lemon or milk (although the latter may affect the nutrition profile of the tea).
Benefits of English Breakfast Tea
Because it’s basically a tea blend, the benefits that English breakfast tea offer are quite similar to those offered by other black teas. These include:
• Helping eliminate free radicals and slow aging. This tea comes with natural antioxidants called flavonoids, which are said to help reduce free radicals in the body.8
• Promotes good circulation. One study published in the journal Circulation found that people struggling with coronary artery problems had better circulation after consuming black tea for four weeks.9
• Helping promote heart health. Aside from improving cholesterol levels, black tea may also help reduce heart attack risk.10
• Help with weight management and optimize metabolism. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that black tea may stimulate the production of good bacteria in the gut. It also uses and changes our energy metabolism in the liver via gut metabolites.11
English Breakfast Tea Nutrition Facts
Aside from antioxidants, English breakfast tea offers nutrients like vitamin B, which is essential for red blood cell creation, as well as phosphorus and magnesium, which are crucial for strong bones.12 Here are other nutrition facts about this tea:
|Amt. Per |
|% Daily |
|Total Fat||0.6 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.4 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.2 g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates||5.7 g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g|
|Vitamin A 1.2%||Vitamin C||0.1%|
|Vitamin D 3.1%||Copper||0.1%|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
English Breakfast Tea Caffeine Content
Since it’s made from black tea, it’s obvious that this tea blend has caffeine. But how much caffeine is there in English breakfast tea? According to SFGate, the amount ranges from 40 to 70 milligrams in every 8-ounce cup. This is almost half the amount that exists in a cup of coffee. Hence, people who are caffeine-sensitive must limit or avoid drinking English breakfast tea, as it may lead to neurological changes, rapid heart rate and other issues.13
How to Make English Breakfast Tea
You can use tea bags or loose leaf tea to create the perfect cup of English breakfast tea. Here’s a simple recipe that you can follow:14
English Breakfast Tea
• 3 tablespoons of loose leaf English breakfast tea or 2 to 3 teabags
• Hot water, for cleaning the teapot
• 20 ounces boiling water, for steeping
• Lemon wedges
1. Using hot water, warm your clean teapot, and then throw the water away.
2. Fill the pot again with fresh boiling water.
3. Add the loose leaves or the teabags to the pot and allow to brew for three to five minutes before serving.
4. Add milk (optional) or serve with lemon wedges.
This makes four 1-cup servings.
How to Store English Breakfast Tea
Similar to wine, tea can become flat and lose its flavor over time. For English breakfast and other black teas, the typical shelf life is around two years – however, if improperly stored, it may become stale much sooner than that.
Ideally, store the tea, whether loose leaf or teabags, in an airtight container. Keep in a cool, dark place, like a pantry, away from other pungent cooking ingredients, as tea can absorb other strong odors. Do not store it in a refrigerator, though, as the moisture can cause it to degrade faster.15
English Breakfast Tea Side Effects
Too much of anything is never good, and this is true even when it comes to a healthy tea like English breakfast tea. Thanks to their caffeine content, black teas, if consumed in excessive amounts, may lead to several side effects, such as diarrhea, constipation and stomach upset.
People who are recovering from heart attacks or acute cardiovascular disorders are also ill-advised to drink English breakfast tea. The same goes for pregnant women and nursing moms, as the caffeine may affect their child’s health.16
Enjoy English Breakfast Tea Any Time of the Day (but Moderate Your Intake)
Just because it’s labeled a breakfast tea doesn’t mean you have to limit drinking it in the morning. This is actually one of the top tea products enjoyed everywhere not only for its health benefits but also its robust flavor. It will certainly wake you up – but that’s most likely because of its caffeine. If you’re caffeine-sensitive, limit your intake of this tea or avoid it completely – don’t worry, there are other tea varieties out there you can opt for!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About English Breakfast Tea
Q: Does English breakfast tea have caffeine?
A: Yes. Every 8-ounce cup can contain 40 to 70 milligrams of caffeine. Hence, people with caffeine sensitivities, those who are recovering from cardiovascular issues, and pregnant and/or breastfeeding moms should refrain from drinking it.
Q: How to drink English breakfast tea?
A: English breakfast tea is traditionally enjoyed hot. It can be flavored with lemon or milk. Be warned that adding milk may affect the antioxidants in the tea, though.
Warning: When buying tea of any kind, make sure that it's organic and grown in a pristine environment. The Camellia sinensis plant is very efficient in absorbing lead, fluoride and other heavy metals and pesticides from soil, which can then be taken up into leaves. To avoid ingesting these dangerous toxins, a clean growing environment is essential, so that you can be sure you're ingesting only pure, high-quality tea.