When it comes to types of English Tea, you may be surprised to know that all tea is imported into the United Kingdom. There are over a dozen countries which export types of tea. Just to mention a few are China, Japan, Taiwan, Kenya, India, and even the United States (I was surprised to learn that one). Thus, English Tea does not actually grow in England. The various types of English tea have different combinations of black tea leaves, such as Assam, Ceylon, Kenyan, etc.
The types of English tea are distinguished by each brand’s secret recipe of blending any of the various black tea leaves. Blend recipes are a closely guarded secret, and no tea company of repute will give theirs away (The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard, 2015). You can expect traditional types of English tea to be a bold and strong black tea with the most caffeine out of all the types of teas. It is also traditional to add milk and sugar to your English Teas. I definitely recommend doing so as it enhances the flavor/flavour profile of the tea blend.
Yorkshiretea.com explains the history of blended black teas in Britain quite well.
“English Breakfast tea was a mongrel. When tea traders needed to sell the last scraps of their various teas from around the world, they mixed them all together and sold them as a blend. There was no guarantee of consistency, quality, origin or flavor – but the product still needed a name. So, it became the defining example of a blend named after the place it was created, and the market it was created for.
English Breakfast tea caught on – and its composition became a little more standardized and refined. Ultimately, it provided the inspiration for most of the black tea blends Brits drinks today. And the source of its name has passed into tea-making tradition too.”
Why is this the type of tea most often consumed by Brits in the morning?
Black tea has the most caffeine out of all the tea leaves. Think of it as the American cup of black coffee, however, a cup of black tea has half the amount of caffeine than a cup of black coffee. Thus, the English black tea will not make you jittery.
If you were to pop into the average British home, what are the types of English Tea you might find in their kitchen?
For the regular everyday morning “cuppa” (a British word meaning cup of tea), you’ll likely see PG Tips, Typhoo, Tetley, or perhaps Yorkshire. In some slightly posher homes, you might see Twinings English Breakfast. It should be noted though that Twinings is a step up from the others in price and reputation.
Houses of Windsor offers its own secret blend of black tea in its Organic Windsor Breakfast Tea. This blend uses certified organic teas from Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and China.
Are you new to types of English tea? Trying to figure out where to start?
First, do not fret. There is no wrong way to do this. Have fun and try different brands of English tea. Tea drinkers land on their favorite/favourite brand of English tea simply based on personal preference.
On one of my recent episodes of Virtual Tea Time w/ Amy, I even questioned my British friend of 20 years, Claire, to ask if any brands were looked down upon in Britain. According to what she has grown up with and experienced, she has never noticed anyone behave as if they are better than another person based on their tea brand (for example, PG Tips vs. Tetley). I was interested in this because there are a couple American tea brands which I must admit I do look down upon. I of course will not mention these American tea brands by name. Let’s just say they do not meet my standards of quality and taste.
As an avid tea drinker, many people ask about tea bags vs. loose leaf. For this particular topic of English teas which the Brits drink regularly every morning, tea bags are completely acceptable. If you are not rushed for time in the morning, then treat yourself to the meditative ceremony and fresh taste of loose leaf.