Care for a spot of tea? In the UK, drinking tea is an everyday custom. While it’s not uncommon to see people enjoy this beverage throughout the day, many prefer to start their morning with a mug of English breakfast tea.
When looking for English Breakfast tea, the options may seem overwhelming at first. There are many varieties available. Whether someone prefers their tea with milk and sugar or completely unsweetened, there is a blend for everyone. Here’s everything you need to know about picking the perfect tea.
Loose Vs. Bagged
Choosing between loose leaf and tea bags is the first choice to make. Tea enthusiasts often wonder if there is a noticeable difference between the two. Loose leaf tea takes a bit more time to prepare. Drinkers must invest in a tea infuser, which they’ll need to carefully fill and wash with each use. For those who prefer another option, tea bags are more convenient. After steeping in hot water, simply toss the used bag into the garbage.
Loose leaf tea features large buds and whole leaves. Tea bags contain crushed buds and leaves. More complex blends usually come loose, and single-note blends are most often sold in bag form. While some aficionados swear by loose teas, it’s also possible to brew a delicious cup from tea bags.
All English breakfast options are black tea blends. Most manufacturers use a combination of tea leaves from Assam, Cylon, and Kenya. Traditionally, breakfast teas are unflavored and get their taste from the quality of leaves used. For instance, Kenyan teas are full-bodied and robust, and tea accounts for nearly one-quarter of the country’s exports. Tea leaves from Cylon are brighter, and Assam teas are a bit malty.
Some people mistakenly believe Earl Grey is a breakfast tea. While both are black teas, Earl Grey has one prominent ingredient: bergamot. The addition of bergamot gives Earl Grey its recognizable citrus aroma and taste. Those looking for something stronger than English breakfast or Earl Grey should consider Irish or Scottish tea blends.
Caffeinated Vs. Decaf
All traditional black tea options contain caffeine, making them best suited for morning consumption. Caffeinated breakfast teas pair well with a full English breakfast. The energy boost from black tea prevents the lull commonly felt after such a big meal. However, not everyone can or wants to consume caffeine. That’s why many manufacturers also offer decaffeinated varieties.
Since caffeine is a natural component of black tea leaves, makers must remove it. They do this by soaking the leaves in water and filtering out the caffeine using a carbon filter. Other methods use carbon dioxide, ethyl acetate, or methylene chloride to remove the caffeine. Although these processes remove most of the caffeine, trace amounts may remain.
It doesn’t matter how much a person spends on luxury tea if they steep it in subpar water. High-quality water for tea brewing is essential. The best water for brewing tea is either filtered or freshly drawn. This ensures naturally occurring minerals don’t interfere with the flavors of the tea leaves. Tap water may even contain small amounts of chlorine which can affect the taste. When in doubt, choose bottled water for brewing.
An English Morning Tradition
While most Americans rely on coffee to help them wake up in the mornings, English breakfast tea remains the top choice overseas. From preparation methods to blend notes, everyone prefers something different. Testing the various options will ensure your next cup is the best cup.