How to Brew Irish Breakfast Tea

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Irish Breakfast Tea is a robust blend of black tea that is hearty and delicious. Which makes it the perfect cup of tea to wake up to. Take it as the Irish do, with a splash of milk and maybe a scone or two. Here’s how to brew that perfect cup of Irish Breakfast Tea. 

Top view of Irish Breakfast Tea in a Teacup with Milk

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Want to enjoy the best flavor in a cup of Irish Breakfast tea? Keep reading to learn what Irish Breakfast tea is, how to brew it, how it’s different from English Breakfast tea, and what to serve with it. 

If you love afternoon tea, you might want to read our post on How to Brew Earl Grey Tea.

History of Irish Breakfast Tea

The Irish drink more tea per capita than the British. The stats say the drink is just under 5 lb per person… every year! 

Tea in Ireland has a vast and storied history. As one might expect from these amazing storytellers.

The story begins with a father and son, Samuel and Charles Bewley. who first introduced tea to Ireland.

“Our story is a spirited adventure around the world with many twists and turns, insights and discoveries,” Bewley’s says

Due to high import costs, tea in Ireland was for the privileged few.

In 1835, Samuel Bewley and his son Charles imported “2,099 chests of tea directly from Canton in China to Dublin on the clipper ship The Hellas, thereby breaking the East India Tea Company’s monopoly and changing the taste of a nation forever.”

You can read more about Bewley’s Irish history, here.

Irish Breakfast Tea

This caffeinated black tea is most often a blend of Assam and Ceylon teas.

While there is no standard blend, most brands of Irish Breakfast Tea lend toward a base of strong black Assam tea from India.

Irish Breakfast Tea is well known for its dark reddish color, strong flavor, and malty aroma.

Stronger than English Breakfast Tea, most Irish tea drinkers take their tea with milk. 

RELATEDTaking Afternoon Tea Like the British

What are Breakfast Teas?

“Breakfast tea” is a term used to describe robust, full-bodied black teas. And they are exceptionally perfect in the morning.

England, Scotland, and Ireland all have their own version of a classic “breakfast tea.”

While they are similar, there are distinct differences.

What is the Difference Between Irish Breakfast Tea and English Breakfast Tea?

When considering breakfast teas, you might wonder what makes them different. Here is a summary from Frank Upton of Upton Tea Imports.

  • English breakfast: Full-bodied and rich. Originally a China black tea but now frequently includes a strong Ceylon tea component. May also include teas from Assam, Africa, and/or Indonesia.
  • Irish breakfast: More robust than English breakfast. Generally has a strong Assam component, giving it a malty flavor.
  • Scottish breakfast: Typically the strongest of the three. May include teas from China, Assam, Ceylon, Africa, and/or Indonesia.
Top view of Irish Breakfast Tea Steeping

What to Serve with Irish Breakfast Tea

Irish Breakfast is typically served with milk and optionally sugar. 

Stash Tea suggests their Super Irish Breakfast blend pairs well with egg dishes, like quiche, vegetables, dark chocolate, carrot cake, and nut desserts featuring pecan and walnut. 

Irish Breakfast Brewing Guide

TEA: 1 teaspoon loose tea, or 1 tea bag
WATER: 1 cup (8 fl. oz.)
STEEP TIME: 3-4 minutes

What You Need to Make Tea

Irish Breakfast Tea
Cold water, filtered if possible
Teapot with infuser
Electric kettle: My electric kettle is in contact use. I love these kettles because you can adjust the water temperature. 

Irish Breakfast Tea being poured into a green and white teacup.

How to Brew Irish Breakfast Tea Properly

STEP 1: Boil cold water.

Twinings says, “Always use freshly drawn (filtered if possible) cold water in the kettle. Tea loves oxygen as it helps the flavor develop. Good tea depends on the water you use to make it.”

Use an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is possible. Just under the boiling point is perfect at 206°F.

Although new research suggests that microwaving tea water successfully is possible, I still like to heat water d the corner, for most of us, it’s still recommended to boil it.

STEP 2: Warm up the teapot.

Pour freshly boiled water into a teapot and swish it around. Then discard the water.

Warming up the teapot allows the tea to unfurl, relax, and deliver the maximum flavor. It also helps to keep the tea warm without dropping the temperature.

STEP 3: Put the tea into a teapot and add hot water.

Twinings’ top tip is to “never pour boiling water over a tea bag or loose tea.” They say “this is because the boiling water will burn the tea, it scalds it and therefore, the tea doesn’t release all of its maximum flavors.”

STEP 4: Cover teapot and steep for 3-4 minutes.

Black tea is best steeped between 3 and 5 minutes. Experiment with tasting tea at 3 minutes and up to but not more than 5 minutes. 

If you like a stronger cup of tea, brew more tea instead of steeping longer. Longer brewing can make your tea bitter.

STEP 5: Strain tea leaves and pour the tea into a teacup.

Irish tea drinkers traditionally add milk to 1/3 of their teacup before pouring strained tea over the milk. Add sugar if desired. 

These brand always rate highly among Irish tea drinkers:

  • Barry’s Irish Breakfast Tea (Amazon)
  • Lyon’s Irish Breakfast Tea (Amazon)
  • Bewley’s Irish Breakfast Tea (Amazon)
  • Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea (Amazon)

How to Properly Store Tea

Use an airtight container or tea caddy to store both loose leaf tea and tea bags. This will help keep your tea dry and fresh. 

Tea Recipes You Might Like

More Afternoon Tea Ideas

Milk pouring into a teacup filled with Irish Breakfast Tea


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Top view of Irish Breakfast Tea in a Teacup with Milk

How to Brew Irish Breakfast Tea

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 9 minutes

Irish Breakfast Tea is a robust blend of black tea that is hearty and delicious. Which makes it the perfect cup of tea to wake up to. Take it as the Irish do, with a splash of milk and maybe a scone or two. Here's how to brew that perfect cup of Irish Breakfast Tea. 


  • 1 cup water, plus more for the teapot
  • 1 teaspoon loose Irish Breakfast tea, or 1 tea bag
  • milk, if desired


  1. Boil water: If using an electric kettle with a temperature setting, set it to 206°F. Boil a little more water than needed so that it can be used to warm up the teapot. Filtered water is best.
  2. Warm-up teapot: Pour some hot water into a teapot and swirl it around a bit. Discard the water.
  3. Add Irish Breakfast tea into the teapot and add hot water.
  4. Cover teapot and steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Strain the tea leaves, add milk to 1/3 of the teacup if desired, and pour hot tea over the top. This has long been a custom in Ireland of adding the milk before the tea. Many believe, however, the best flavor of tea is achieved by adding the milk after the tea.
  6. Add sugar if desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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