Britain's love affair with tea is legendary- we are the second biggest consumers of tea in the world, narrowly beaten by the Irish. Tea has a firm place in our history, whether it's being chucked off boats in Boston or travelling the Silk Route to eager London tea merchants, desperate to supply to the rich and famous. Tourists still flock to cafes and tea houses to experience a 'proper' tea.
English Breakfast is at the heart of this. I always think of it as a posh way to describe 'normal' tea. A blend of black teas (usually assam or ceylon, sometimes more expensive teas such as keemun), it's designed to perk you up in a morning. English Breakfast is an excellent soother of woes; hunger, hangover, heartache can all be soothed with a nice cup of tea. The beauty of English Breakfast is that its malty taste is designed to go well with milk and sugar. Anything else might be considered odd. I like mine fairly milky, no sugar, which in the health concious 21st century is not perhaps considered too weird. This tea is also the first we are exposed to as a child; as a result, I cannot drink a black tea without milk without feeling a little bit strange. The black teas often benefit from it.
I very rarely drink English Breakfast, but that means that when I drink it, I do appreciate it more; sometimes life does not need scented, fancy teas. Sometimes you just need a strong, macho builders' brew to do the job. I find it amusing then that this blend was originally devised for people with lots of money- now it's the most democratic of beverages.
The tea I tasted for this post was kindly supplied by Cup of Tea