We all know that taking slices of potatoes and deep frying them is absolutely delicious. It is so delicious that Thomas Jefferson used to eat them all the time when he was in the White House and called them “potatoes served in the French manner.” From that point on the name kinda stuck and almost the entire English speaking world now refers to them as “French Fries.” Interestingly enough, English Breakfast Tea has a similar story considering it has almost nothing to do with England.
The name “English Breakfast Tea” comes from New York
In 1843, a young man named Richard Davies immigrated to the US with little money. At the time people were drinking a lot of Oolong Tea, since it generally tasted better than the other varietals. But, the problem was that an average Oolong was expensive for the times, running about $1 a pound.
Davies wanted a blend that would be cheaper, flavorful and consistent
Being the budding entrepreneur that he was, Davies wanted to make a blend of tea that would be tastier than the average tea yet cost less than an Oolong. The benefit of using a blend of teas is each cup would be consistent because the flavors of each tea are combined making it harder for consumers to detect if one of the teas had a bad crop that year.
He finally decided on a blend of Keemun as a base, adding a little bit of Ceylon and a touch of Powchong (an old Taiwanese style of tea no longer grown). He chose these because they were so easily accessible and consistent and priced the tea at 50¢ per pound, half the price of higher end teas. He named this blend English Breakfast Tea.
It was so popular that everyone started copying him
Davies’ English Breakfast Tea was wildly popular considering it was so inexpensive. People from other states started requesting this special English Breakfast Tea and even went as far as sending messages to London to get a steady supply.
Eventually, a competitor bought some of his tea and sent it to China so they could produce a steady supply. Once that happened they started to ship English Breakfast Tea to the entire world and the famous blend became a worldwide sensation.
As odd as it turns out, two of America’s most influential culinary achievements have names that honor other countries. English Breakfast Tea is the most popular blend in the world, while French Fries are obviously a staple in a large percentage of American’s diets. But, no matter what the name is, just enjoy English Breakfast Tea for what it is – a really tasty and relatively inexpensive cup of tea!