The Mysteries of Tea ~ English Breakfast

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photograph by Melissa Placzek

“Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors.”  ~Alice Walker

:: Tea of the Week ::

English Breakfast

English Breakfast tea is not just one kind of tea, but a tea “blend.” There are some tea blends that have been created over centuries according to the personal and collective preference of individual tea-drinking nations. The Brits have long preferred a strong, robust blend to wake them up in the morning, much as Americans take their morning cup of coffee. Other blends that I’ll cover at a later date include: Irish Breakfast, Indian Breakfast, Earl Grey, Russian Caravan and Afternoon Blend.

English blends have traditionally consisted of teas that offer rich flavor, and a dark, amber liquor. English Breakfast tea almost always contains a blend of teas from Assam, Sri Lanka and Kenya. Some American tea companies use only China Keemun as a base for their English Breakfast blends.

Character: malty, smooth, brisk

Appearance: dark, coppery

:: Tea Fact ::

Black teas are divided into many leaf grade and broken-leaf grade categories. These grades are:

Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP)– The largest tea leaves. Young, tender, balanced leaves with a correct “tip.” The correct tip on a tea leaf assures the savvy tea purchaser that they are buying the very best quality tea.

Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (GFOP)- This is a flowery orange pekoe with golden tips- the very tip of the yellow leaf buds.

Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (TGFOP)- The FOP with the largest quantity of golden tips

Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP)- An exceptionally high-quality FOP.

Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (SFTGFOP)- The very best FOP

Orange Pekoe (OP)- Contains long, pointed larger leaves that are harvested later than that of FOP. Very rarely contains the tea “tips.”

Pekoe (P)- Shorter, coarser leaves than OP

Flowery Pekoe (FP)– Contains leaves that have been rolled lengthwise, pieces shorter and coarser than OP.

Pekoe Souchong (PS)– shorter, coarser leaves than pekoe

Souchong (S)– The word ‘souchong’ means ‘sub-variety’ in Chinese. This term means that large (overgrown) leaves have been rolled lengthwise to produce ragged, coarse pieces. This is often the variety of tea that is used for smoked teas in China and Taiwan (Lapsang Souchong.)

Broken Leaf Grades- Broken Souchong leaves

Fannings- Tea dust made up of the finest siftings that are left after whole leaves and broken tea leaves have been removed. This is the type of tea you find in many tea bags.

What’s in your teacup?


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  6 comments for “The Mysteries of Tea ~ English Breakfast

  1. Dana
    February 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I love the picture! Those are my favorite color for roses, and they’re SO bloomed! The rest of the setting is just so pretty. Pictures like this one make my heart smile.

    I like the tea information, too. 😉 Right now, I’m drinking coffee, though. For some reason, I need it in the morning. Weird, huh? LOL

  2. Melissa
    February 22, 2011 at 10:13 am

    my favorite color of roses too! my wedding roses 😉

    Thanks for the compliment on the picture. I’m getting closer to haveing some final shots for the tea book.

    I drank coffee first thing in the morning for years and years…not weird at all! Yum. I wish I could still drink coffee on a regular basis, but it does something strange to my blood sugar. Makes me feel crazed for about 20 minutes, and then it puts me to sleep! I do still indulge in a fully-loaded Caribou mocha with all of the “stuff” on it about once a week tho. Can’t give it up completely.

    You may want to try Keemun tea. It’s what I switched to when I couldn’t drink coffee anymore. Very dark and robust.

  3. Kimber Dunn
    February 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Keemun – that’s what I need. I have a hard time with teas because they’re “thin & weak”, but am enjoying the discovery of different flavors. Just wish they were “thicker” to drink like coffee or cocoa. I’ve been drinking the grey’s and irish breakfast the last couple week, and they’re pretty good.

  4. Melissa
    February 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I don’t know if you’re still using tea bags, but if you want a nice strong cup of tea, using good quality tea leaves and an extra demitasse spoon (about 1/2 teaspoon) of tea per cup should do the trick.

  5. Kimber Dunn
    February 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks! I have used both bags and loose, depending on what I bought. I use 2 tea bags sometimes to give me the strength I like. I’m hoping to get the tea infuser you recommended so I can use more loose leaves on a regular basis.

  6. Melissa
    February 25, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    that’s a great idea, Kimber!

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