I suppose it goes to show just how popular tea is in Britain when one variety takes on the mantle of chief companion to the nation’s morning meal.
The name English Breakfast is often given to blends of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas which are readily available on supermarket shelves. Seemingly every well known tea brand has one, which is why I was more than a little surprised to find such a tea in my Chinese black tea sample collection from www.adagio.uk.com. After a bit of research though I discovered that it was actually Keemun tea, hailing from the Anhui province of China that was the leaf of choice for the original ‘English Breakfast’.
Although not entirely definite, the origins of the name are actually thought to lie in the USA, with renowned tea merchant Richard Davies (an English immigrant) finding huge popularity with his blended tea across New York City back in 1843. His product was so popular that it set the benchmark for other tea makers to strive and, in homage to his exquisite brew, blended teas were from then on referred to simply as English Breakfast. I can only assume that it was always just ‘breakfast tea’ to Richard Davies though.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the present day and the Keemun tea in hand. Just from opening the packet I could tell I was in for an entirely different taste than that of the previous Chinese teas I had tasted. There was a smokiness and a density which contrasted greatly to the Yunnan teas I had sampled. I put a large spoonful into my infuser and allowed it to brew for a solid four minutes, then added a small dash of milk.
What followed next was a tea revelation. The smokiness was certainly there, though nowhere near too strong. In the past I’d tasted a Lapsang Souchong, renowned for its smoky flavour but the two couldn’t be any more different. Think relaxing cottage wood fire compared to standing downwind of raging Guy Fawkes’ Night bonfire. The flavour was so intriguing and pleasant, with its sweet, honey finish, that I found the whole cup to be gone in a matter of minutes. So quick was I to polish off the cup in fact, that I did not even stop to take any photos!
A few hours later and with the memory of the flavour still in my mind, I was back at the kettle and preparing another cup. This time I was prepared however and had my camera ready, and even a slice of cake to accompany it. Well it is the quintessential English tea after all…
Are you a big fan of an English Breakfast tea? What do you think I should try next? Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.