Earl Grey Vs English Breakfast – What’s The Difference?

Black teas are undoubtedly the most popular kind of tea in the world. Some consume for the health benefits it provides, some hold it for the symbolism of high status, while some simply love and fancy the fragrance and taste. With Earl Grey and English Breakfast coming out on top, most of you probably wonder which truly is better.

what is english breakfast tea

English Breakfast Vs Earl Grey: Differences

  1. The Taste Is Quite Different
  2. The Caffeine Amount Is Quite Different
  3. English Breakfast Is More Modern
  4. Earl Grey Is More Old-School
  5. Earl Grey Has More Sub-Types

More About The Two

Earl Gray is a black tea blend more known for its distinct flavor from the rind oil of bergamot orange. The familiar origin of it is when Charles Grey received it as a diplomatic gift from an envoy and, upon liking it, hired a brewer to remake the flavor.

English Breakfast, on the other hand, is a tea blend that varies per maker, but it is more likely to include Assam and Ceylon black teas and is known for its strong flavor perfect for the “English breakfast.”

Its origins are credited to a Scottish tea master, Robert Drysdale, in the late 19th century establishing a new trend of stronger blends in the morning from the afternoon tea norm. So let’s find the difference between earl gray breakfast tea and English breakfast tea.

Taste Distinction – English Breakfast Tea Vs Earl Grey

The bold and floral fragrance is what Earl Grey mainly offers because of the bergamot oil extract. It has a unique citrus flavor from the bergamot orange while offering the lightest taste of black teas, and likely its scent when freshly brewed amplifies this flavor.

On the other hand, English Breakfast being a mix of Ceylon, Assam, and Kenyan teas(Or whichever the brewer prefers aside from the latter two), presents a strong, distinct flavor accompanied by a smell comparable to a toast and honey. The tea is a perfect match for hearty meals and very rightfully earns its name.

However, these descriptions are still quite general as the two teas have sub-types of their own. We will follow more on that in the latter part of this discussion.

is english breakfast tea black tea

Caffeine Content

Measuring of a tea’s content varies slightly as it depends on how long a tea bag is steeped in the cup. Generally, the caffeine level of black teas ranges from 20 mg up to 60 mg based on a study conducted by researchers of the University of Florida, but an article claiming to have performed laboratory testings named how much caffeine content a particular brew from a commercial product has. Showing Twinings Earl Grey and English Breakfast were having 25mg caffeine level in a 6oz cup of water in a 5 minutes steep time.

Different brands meanwhile mean different caffeine levels of the course, and most commercial tea brands do not list the caffeine amount in their products, excluding Lipton. This does mean, though, that both of the two packs are less of a punch than your average cup of coffee.


Here we can elaborate on some of the most popular sub-types of the two blends we are comparing. First, for Earl Grey tea, we have:

Lady Grey – much very like the original Earl Grey, this variation still uses the bergamot essential oil but adds lemon and orange peel in the mix bringing about a more subtle flavor and a less strong taste for those who find the original quite strong. Symbolizing Lady Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of Charles Grey to which the original blend got its name.

Russian Earl Grey – This blend leans heavier on the citrus-side of the original. Incorporating more citrus fruits into the blend such as lemon and orange aside from bergamot and even including cornflower petals or lemongrass depending on the brewer.

is earl grey a black tea

Rooibos Earl Grey – Instead of Assam black tea leaves, this particular blend replaces it with herbal rooibos tea leaves, a South African plant grown in the mountain-sides of the region. This could be much like a decaffeinated blend because of the replacement of the leaves, and it offers some sweet notes similar to how a cranberry tastes like in exchange for 5 to 7 minutes steeping time as herbal tea tends to need longer steep time than black tea.

Going back to English Breakfast, its sub-types offers two more main types varying more in their strength:

Irish Breakfast Tea – in which Assam tea appears to be the most dominant tea in the blend, but then again, the exact amount depends on the brewer. Anyhow, this blend offers more of a punch as it contains black tea content – meaning more caffeine. Ain’t a perfect breakfast without the perfect amount of caffeine, right?

Scottish Breakfast Tea – Remember when I said there ain’t a perfect breakfast without that strong taste? Yes, out of the three blends, including the original English Breakfast, this seems to be the most hearty or ‘heavy’ of all. Having most of Assam content from them all, its taste can border on bitterness and would likely be an alternative if coffee is not available.

Which Tastes Better?

What Does English breakfast tea taste like? Having been presented with the general taste of our two most popular teas here, followed by further elaboration of their sub-types as well as tasting the original blends for the two, I would still testify that the Earl Grey tea offers more feeling and effect than our English Breakfast. In terms of taste, that is, because Earl tea simply offers more range of flavors as it utilizes not only the strength but also the smell and caters to more personal tastes.

Nevertheless, this is but an opinion, and as classic tea blends continue to evolve and develop further variants that we have now, so does the taste that you, our beloved tea connoisseurs, will be more distinct.

The Verdict

Earl Grey Tea, in simpler terms, brings out the classic tea with the use of citrus flavors, creating more blend preferences, while English breakfast is the kind of tea I would recommend to those who are in pursuit of the classic yet elegant clash of bitterness and sweetness. With the exact amount of every ingredient that is yours to be decided upon, I expect that this discussion was able to help you out; thank you for reading.

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About David Dewitt

Hi, my name is David and I come from Columbus, Ohio. I am a amateur photographer, and a coffee lover. I love to write, and don't mind me a cup of joe!