Irish tea, most commonly known as Irish breakfast tea, is a combination of various black teas. Assam tea is the main component of this tea blend. Other black teas are rarely used. This is also the national beverage of Ireland and generally known as simply ‘tea’.
There are many tea manufacturers in Ireland who produce various tea blends including Assam tea with or without flavors. Some of the popular brands are Lyons, Twinings and Barry’s. This tea blend has such great popularity in US that many Irish tea manufacturers produce the breakfast tea specifically for the American market.
Irish Breakfast Tea Culture
The per capita consumption of tea is quite high in Ireland. Offering tea in Ireland at parties, get-togethers and conferences is a tradition and it symbolizes hospitality.
People of all classes, rich or poor, love tea and they have special tea times. 1835 was the historic year when tea was introduced in Ireland and it gained the status of beverage for the high class. It was mid 1800’s when the tradition of drinking tea had become popular among rural people. Small grocery stores were opened in almost all towns and Irish villages that used to sell tea and sugar in exchange of eggs and butter.
Preparation of Irish Breakfast Tea
Irish tea tastes best when prepared in true authentic style. The Irish like a strong ‘cupan tea’, means cup of tea in Gaelic dialect. Usually, the tea leaves are a blend of strong Assam and Ceylon teas. This tea is generally prepared with milk that traditionally measures to 1/3 of the tea cup. Milk is added to give a rich and smooth texture to strong tea. It even reduces the amount of caffeine that is otherwise quite high in black tea.
Black tea is prepared by infusing the tea leaves or tea bag in hot boiling water. Steeping is necessary to brew a perfect Irish breakfast tea. A warm teapot is used for steeping purpose. Tea is served in individual cups. Milk is first added to the cup and then black tea is poured. Milk and tea are blended together to form a rich, flavorful tea. For a strong brew, milk should be added in less quantity. Sugar is added in the end according to the taste.
Serving of Irish Tea
As the name suggests, Irish tea is mainly meant for breakfast, but the love of Irish people with tea makes them have the brew all day long. Customarily the tea time divided into three slots.
- 11:00 morning – This is usually the time when Irish people take the first cup of tea.
- 3:00-5:00 pm – This is the time for afternoon tea. This time is the working man’s time when tea is served with fancy accompaniments such as scones, muffins, jam breads and other food items.
- 6:00 pm – This is called ‘high tea’ or evening meal tea.
Irish Tea Benefits
Irish breakfast tea like other tea blends is not only a beverage but a nutritional drink full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants present in tea are helpful in combating cancers and blocking free radicals. Caffeine content in Irish breakfast tea helps in giving energy that allow people to stay active whole day. Essential vitamins and minerals help in improving digestion, eyesight and nervous system.
Irish tea can also be blended with fine Irish whiskey to make a heady drink.