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Variations on a Theme

Breakfast Blends are traditional blends of black teas originating most often from India (Assam), Ceylon and Kenya and sometimes China. They are the most popular blended teas and the most common form of tea in British tea culture. On Lady Baker’s shelves, you will find English, Scottish and Irish blends which vary ever so slightly in appearance and taste when brewed.

The practice of referring to such a blend as "English breakfast tea" apparently originated in America, as far back as Colonial times by a tea merchant and English immigrant named Richard Davies in New York City. He chose to promote teas and England in his sales pitch! Did he have any idea just what he had started?

[caption id="attachment_1400" align="aligncenter" width="2049"]English Breakfast loose leaf English Breakfast loose leaf[/caption]

English Breakfast tea is a blend described as full-bodied and robust. It’s blended to go well with milk and sugar to accompany a hearty breakfast such as fatty fried foods like bacon or sausage and eggs or strong flavours as in smoked fish. Lady Baker’s English Breakfast blend contains India (Assam), Ceylon and Kenyan teas. My dad loved sugar in his tea so much that we would say he had tea with his sugar! I take black tea with milk, but no sugar, thanks, Dad!

[caption id="attachment_1401" align="aligncenter" width="2448"]Scottish Breakfast Scottish Breakfast[/caption]

The Scottish Breakfast blend on Lady Baker’s shelf is from India (Assam) and China. The tea was specially created to taste good in the soft waters of Scotland and was the first tea to take the needs of the Scottish market into account when blending. Charlottetown’s water is quite hard and I have to use a water softener filter for brewing at the Farmer’s Market. Maybe that's why the Scottish Breakfast is so good!

A full Scottish breakfast can include porridge, toast, beans and grilled or fried meats. I never had ‘beans on a bun’ till visiting in the Shetland Islands where it was a regular in the breakfast diners. Brown beans were served on a toasted bun along with a strong cup of tea. It was so delicious, I remember, especially because we had been trumping along in the rain and were quite chilled. To this day, I love to toast a bun and top with brown beans and molasses! As a matter of fact that's what I'll have for supper tonight! Gary Clausheide's organic black beans at the Charlottetown Farmer's Market are the best!

[caption id="attachment_1402" align="aligncenter" width="2110"]Beans on a Bun and a Scottish brew! Beans on a Bun and a Scottish brew![/caption]

It may surprise you to learn that the people of Ireland drink more tea per capita than any other population on Earth. Traditionally the Irish liked their tea strong and dark.  Lady Baker’s is a stout, robust blend of Kenya leaf and rich malty Assam. The leaves are broken and processed quite fine and therefore infuse faster and the appearance is slightly darker than the larger leaf of English and Scottish blends.

[caption id="attachment_1403" align="aligncenter" width="2442"]Irish Breakfast - leaf is more broken Irish Breakfast - leaf is more broken[/caption]

In order to provide the Irish with blends this strong, tea blenders supplying the market buy from top quality and specific seasonal harvests.

When making your cuppa, brew 1 tsp. per 8-10oz. cup for about 3 minutes. You may prefer a stronger libation. The longer brewing time for stronger tea, may be too astringent for some tastes but more polyphenols will be extracted.  And that’s a good thing!

Adding milk, in the case of a tea that’s strong, cancels out the tannins and diminishes the bitterness that can characterize some strong teas.

The Breakfast Blends contain natural caffeine found in the Camellia Sinensis (tea) family.

A cup of black tea steeped in boiled water for 5 minutes will contain between 27 to 35 mg of caffeine. An equal sized cup of coffee will contain between 80 and 100 mg. Caffeine quickly becomes soluble in very hot water. If you wish to reduce the caffeine level by 25 to 50%  in these blends, briefly rinse the tea leaves in extremely hot water. It works!

My personal preference from the palate perspective for the Breakfast Blends is first, the Scottish (perhaps my heritage has something to do with that), then the Irish and lastly the English. But wherever I am, I never refuse a good cup of breakfast tea! Are you a Breakfast tea fan? Leave me a comment below this post and let me know which is your favourite!

[caption id="attachment_1408" align="aligncenter" width="3172"]taste and see the 'variations on a theme' taste and see the 'variations on a theme'[/caption]
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