English Breakfast Tea


by Imperial Tea Garden May 01, 2018

There are many things that naturally come to mind when one thinks about loose leaf tea and its long history.  First and foremost is the Chinese influence on tea. China has long been associated as the birth place of green tea as a beverage.  Second is the ritualistic Japanese tea ceremony and finally, the topic of the day, English teas and the birth of traditions such as high tea and scones.

Tea was isolated and regional for many centuries.  It was the Portuguese and Dutch traders who first imported tea to Europe with regular shipments in the early 17th century.  England was a latecomer to the tea trade, as the East India Company did not capitalize on tea's popularity until the mid-18th century.  But none the less, England will be forever steeped in tea lore and history.

Taxation on Tea
Taxes are sometimes used as the carrot and often the stick. Charles II (king of England during the mid 1600's) stemmed the growth of tea, with several acts forbidding its sale in private homes. The measures were designed to counter sedition, but were so unpopular and impossible to enforce that it added fuel an already tumultuous situation.  A 1676 act taxed tea and required coffee house operators to apply for a license.  This was just the start of attempts to control, or at least profit from the popularity of tea in Britain.  By the mid 18th century the duty on tea had reached an absurd 119%. This heavy taxation had the effect of creating a whole new industry - tea smuggling.  Ships from Holland and Scandinavia brought tea to the British coast, then waited offshore while smugglers unloaded the precious cargo in smaller vessels.  Finally, in 1784 William Pitt the Younger introduced the Commutation Act, which dropped the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%, effectively ending smuggling.  The race was on to supply the ever increasing thirst for tea in England, Ireland and Scotland.

Tea Clippers
In the early 1800's ships carrying tea from the Far East to Britain could take over a year to bring home their precious cargo. When the East India Company was given a monopoly on the tea trade in 1832, they realized the need to cut the time of this journey to maximize profits. The Americans actually designed the first "clippers", or streamlined, tall-masted vessels, but the British were close behind. These clippers sped along at nearly 18 knots by contemporary accounts - nearly as fast as a modern ocean liner.  So great was the race for speed that an annual competition was begun for clippers to race from the Canton River to the London Docks. The first ship to unload its cargo won the captain and crew a hefty bonus.

Tea Customs
Afternoon tea is said to have originated with one person; Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford. In the early 1800's she launched the idea of having tea in the late afternoon to bridge the gap between luncheon and dinner, which in fashionable circles might not be served until 8 o'clock at night. This fashionable custom soon evolved into high tea among the working classes, where this late afternoon repast became the main meal of the day. 

Two teas that have survived excessive taxation and the test of time are English Breakfast Tea and Earl Grey.  Both teas originated with black tea from China but were later used from colonial tea planted in India.

English Breakfast Tea
English Breakfast Tea is a blend of high mountain grown Ceylon tea from the regions of Nuwara Eliya, Dumbala, and Uva.  English Breakfast tea is full bodied without being overpowering.  Perfect as a stand alone black tea but is well suited for cream and sugar.   
                                                            
Earl Grey
Afternoon tea Earl Grey is named after its English Benefactor, Charles Earl Grey, who for a short time served as Prime Minister (1830-1834) under King William IV.  The unusual flavoring that makes Earl Grey so special is the oil of Bergamot which comes from the pear shaped citrus grown throughout the Mediterranean.  The oil is pressed from the rind and is used for perfume as well as great tasting tea.  The essence of this exotic flavor is blended only premium high mountain grown Ceylon tea from Nuwara Eliya, Dumbala, and Uva districts.  This flavored black tea is sure to delight your senses and is the perfect accompaniment with scones, cakes and pastries.

 

Shop online at Imperial Tea Garden to find your favorite loose leaf teas, tea bags and accessories or try your hand at baking some fresh scones for your next tea party.

Imperial Tea Garden has compiled the largest resource of the best scone recipes on the internet.  Whether you're a novice or old pro, our index of SCONE RECIPES will have you baking delicious scones in no time.  Using one of these easy recipes buttermilkEnglish tea sconeScottish drop scone you'll be on your way to hosting the best tea parties...but don't forget the TEA!

 

Click the links below for hundreds of free scone recipes
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