Irish Breakfast Tea: Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make it Properly)

Irish breakfast tea leaves

Quick Look:

  • ORIGIN: Ireland
  • TASTING NOTES: bold, robust, malty
  • STEEP TIME: 3 to 5 minutes

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What is Irish Breakfast Tea?

Irish Breakfast tea is one of the most popular black tea blends available and the strongest of the “breakfast teas”. Irish breakfast tea is typically made up of Assam and Ceylon teas.

As the story goes, for decades tea was only enjoyed by the elite few, thanks to high import costs. However, in 1835, father and son duo, Samuel and Charles Bewley imported a huge amount of tea directly to Dublin, breaking cost barriers and allowing the nation to enjoy the taste of tea. 

Due to its high Assam content, Irish Breakfast tea boasts a deep reddish color, and a bold, malty flavor, most often made with milk and sugar. 

Fun Fact: Tea is an important Irish custom, and contrary to common belief, the Irish drink more tea per capita than the British!


What do you need to make Irish Breakfast tea?

Tea Scoop

This is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

Electric Tea Kettle

An electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is a must-have brew gadget for tea drinkers! You can set the temperature to the degree for the perfect brew every time. This kettle is a favorite of ours. Or you can check out our full post on the best electric tea kettles.

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Tea Pot with Strainer

A teapot with a built-in strainer makes brewing tea so much easier when you’re using loose tea leaves. If you’re an avid tea drinker, you won’t regret buying this tea tool!

Loose Irish Breakfast Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas. If you can’t use loose leaves, a tea sachet is the next best thing, since they have more room than a traditional tea bag.

Tea Cup

This one is up to you! Use whatever cup makes you happy! If you need some inspiration, check out some of our favorite drinkware.

Milk and Sugar

Irish breakfast tea is typically made with both milk and sugar to balance its bold flavor. However, you can feel free to enjoy it with just one or neither, depending on your personal preference.  

How do you make Irish Breakfast tea properly?

To make the perfect cup of Irish Breakfast tea, you will want to use 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves for each 8-ounce cup. If you don’t have loose-leaf tea, use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

Tea tip: if you want a stronger flavor, add more tea leaves rather than steeping them for a longer period of time. Most people don’t realize this, but steeping tea too long doesn’t increase the good flavors, it actually can make it more bitter.

Step 1: Pour your water into the tea kettle.

Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). Make sure to pour some extra water to warm up your teapot or steeping vessel.

Step 2: Boil your water.

For an optimal flavor experience, bring the water to about 208°F. This is important, as the flavors will not fully develop if the water does not get hot enough. If you do not have an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting, just bring your kettle to a full boil, then remove it from the heat and let the water sit for a moment before steeping the tea.

Step 3: Warm up your teapot.

First, pour a bit of your boiled water into your teapot or steeping vessel and swirl it around for a few seconds to allow it to warm the vessel. Then you can discard this water in the sink. 

Step 4: Put your Irish Breakfast tea leaves into the teapot and add the rest of your hot water and then cover the pot.

Step 5: Steep your tea leaves for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 6: Strain your tea leaves.

This is easier if you have a teapot with an integrated strainer.

Step 7: Decant your infused tea into your teacup, add milk and sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

Can you cold brew Irish Breakfast Tea?

Yes, you can definitely cold brew Irish Breakfast tea for a bold, smooth beverage filled with antioxidants and caffeine – perfect for a morning or afternoon boost!

Keep reading for the steps to easily do it at home.

Did you know cold brewing is the best way to make iced tea? To learn all about it, check out our post on everything you need to know about cold brew.

How do you make cold brew Irish Breakfast tea properly?

To cold brew Irish Breakfast tea, use 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves for every 8-ounce cup of water.

STEP 1: Add your tea leaves to a pitcher with an infuser.

STEP 2: Pour room-temperature filtered water or spring water over the tea and stir gently.

STEP 3: Put your pitcher in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours

STEP 4: Strain the leaves, add milk and/or sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

Tea Tip: Using simple syrup instead of granulated sugar is the best way to sweeten your cold brew tea, as it will easily blend with the cold tea. Check out our guide on how to make your own simple syrup at home!

Dairy-Free Alternatives to Add to Irish Breakfast Tea

If you are lactose intolerant or just want a dairy-free option to use in your tea, we have some great substitutes for you:

Almond Milk:

This plant-based milk alternative will add a hint of nutty sweetness to your tea. There are different flavors and sweetened options, however, we prefer to stick with the original unsweetened version.

Oat Milk:

Derived from whole oats, this dairy-free milk will give your tea some creaminess with a neutral flavor. This one is a favorite of ours.

Coconut Milk:

Extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts, coconut milk will add a rich sweetness to your tea without any lactose! 

What does Irish Breakfast tea taste like?

Irish Breakfast tea is known to be robust, bold, and full-bodied with malty notes.

Since it is often made up of mostly Assam tea (with a smaller amount of other black teas, such as Ceylon), it is the strongest of the “breakfast tea” options. 

How much caffeine is in Irish Breakfast tea?

The exact amount of caffeine in Irish Breakfast tea can vary, depending on the particular makeup of the blend, and the steep time. 

Some tea brands sell Irish Breakfast teas that are entirely made up of Assam, resulting in much higher caffeine content, while others have a more balanced blend of Assam and Ceylon or other black teas.

On average, a cup of Irish Breakfast tea is known to have a high level of caffeine; typically about 75-95 mg of caffeine. But, again, this can vary from brand to brand and cup to cup. 

What are some health benefits of drinking Irish Breakfast tea?

Irish Breakfast tea has many health benefits including antioxidants, cardiovascular health, oral health, metabolism boost, and more!

For the full summary, check out our post on the health benefits and possible side effects of black tea.

Where can you find good quality Irish Breakfast tea?

There are several good quality options you can try. Here are just a few options to get you started:

What is the best way to store Irish Breakfast tea?

When it comes to storing Irish Breakfast tea, there are a few important things you will want to avoid. These are air exposure, light exposure, moisture, heat, and strong odors.

In order to keep your tea in its best and freshest condition, you will want to store it in a container that helps avoid the above-mentioned threats. 

The best containers are made of opaque materials with a tight seal. Some good options include non-reactive metals, glazed ceramics, and non-leaching plastics. Beware that while you may see wood tea storage options, they are not best for storing loose-leaf tea, as they can have their own odors that can alter the taste of your tea. 

Once you have your tea in its storage container, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Here are some good options for storing your loose leaf tea:

Looking for ways to organize your tea bags? Try these:

You want to ensure your tea stays fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!

We hope this guide helped you learn everything you need to know about Irish Breakfast tea and how to make it at home!

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