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Was English Breakfast Tea Onboard the Boston Ships?

Was English Breakfast one of the teas tossed into Boston Harbor?

1862 Great Atlantic Pacific Tea Company Trade Card
1862 Great Atlantic Pacific Tea Company Trade Card

All the teas onboard the three ships in Boston Harbor in December 1773 carried teas that would have been enjoyed by our British cousins at breakfast. But there was no such blend known as English Breakfast.

Despite its name, the first English Breakfast Tea was created in New York in the nineteenth century. An article in the trade magazine Journal of Commerce explains how Richard Davies, an English apothecary from Hull, founded a small tea company in New York and, in 1843, made a new mix of teas using China Congou, Flowery Pekoe, and Pouchong. He called it English Breakfast, and sold it at 50 cents per pound. The public apparently loved it and as demand grew, other retailers created their own version of this now world-famous blend.

In Britain, English Breakfast is traditionally made up of a blend of teas from Assam, for its warm malty smoothness; Sri Lanka, for its brisk golden quality; and Kenya, for its strength and depth of flavor and color. Some American companies use China Keemun teas exclusively as the base for their English Breakfast blends, and the choice of teas depends very much on the personal preferences of individual blenders.

What makes a great English Breakfast? The greatest determining factor would have to be the tea’s ability to bind with milk, of course! If you are a fan of English Breakfast, try our signature Abigail’s Blend Tea, available in our gift shop or in Abigail’s Tea Room.

Bruce Richardson Profile Picture

Bruce Richardson

MSN calls Bruce Richardson "A leading tea expert involved in tea's American renaissance for over 25 years." The native Kentuckian is a writer, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the globe. He can often be found appearing on television and radio talk shows, or as a guest speaker at professional seminars such as World Tea Expo and China Global Tea Fair. He is the author of over a dozen books on the subject of tea. Mr. Richardson serves as Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

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