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Best English Breakfast Tea?

Hi Hounds,

Does anyone have recommendations for a great stop for tea? We enjoy Samovar and even Lovejoy's -- wondering if there are others?

Also, I am looking for a great brand of English breakfast tea (bag, not loose). Someone in the UK recommended Pratt's brand to me, but I have no luck in finding in it.

Suggestions are much appreciated.

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  1. Best English breakfast tea is PG Tips hands down. Most independent markets with a 'British' section will stock it or there is the British Food Center in Campbell. Miserable woman runs the pace but they have the essentials.

    British Food Center
    1614 W Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008

    1 Reply
    1. re: NMPeacock

      PG Tips is good if you like milk in your tea. For a straight-up tea drinker, the tea is a bit on the harsh side.

    2. I really like Harney & Sons English Breakfast. They sell the bagged version at Barnes & Noble; I buy looseleaf online (and their Supreme Breakfast, with a touch of smokiness, is off the hook).

      I've never been too keen on actual English brands of tea, finding they lack finesse. There was a good NYT article a while back on the new crop of tea bags whose quality is as high as looseleaf that noted, "The English often drink tea with milk and sugar, so they like it dark and strong, just the way cheap tea bags make it."


      1 Reply
      1. re: Cicely

        Dark and strong doesn't come from "cheap tea bags" but from really great English ones! Understand it's all a matter of taste and culture here. Anyway, I'm a Fortnum and Mason fan for some of the more "nuanced" kinds (their Fortmason Blend is to die for). That's the good news. The bad news is that they stopped distributing it in the US. You can probably mail order from F & M, but that gets kind of ridiculous re $$s. I get some whenever I'm in England or whenever someone I know is going, along w/ my every-day bags which are Marks and Spencer's Extremely Strong Teabags. I wonder if the British Food Center in Campbell stocks--or could be persuaded to stock--either. Finally, good places to look are South and East Asian food shops--Lipton's Yellow Label has a good reputation, though...again it's all about taste--it's not dark or strong enough for me!

        British Food Center
        1614 W Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008

      2. PG Tips and Ty-Phoo are classic. Berkeley Bowl has a British section but I'm not sure what kinds of tea they stock.

        1. You could try the Leland tea shop (on Bush St. between Van Ness & Polk, SF).


          1. I agree with sundeck sue - There's a huge difference in quality of nuance in blends of English Breakfast tea.

            I do like the F&M blend. But I actually import mine from "Murchie's" up in Vancouver. They've changed the name to "English afternoon tea", and it's excellent: strong, complex flavor. They sell it either bulk or in teabags.

            pass the marmite for my toast, please...

            1 Reply
            1. re: escargot3

              I think you're overgeneralizing. Most of the widely distributed English teabags are crap -- just like most widely distributed mass commercial products. While many English people enjoy a fine cup of tea, most English people use cheap teabags to create a strong brew and add milk and often sugar, which makes using a high-quality, "nuanced" tea pointless. That's not to say that there aren't great teas available from England, just that if you're looking for high quality and "nuance" the average supermarket tea, or even the above-average supermarket tea, is not where you're going to find it.

              Personally, I think you're better off buying a good quality tea from a source that does a big volume/turnover than a box of tea that's been sitting on the shelf in a supermarket's "specialty" section for who knows how long. Honestly, I'd rather buy it from Peet's.

            2. Why not support a local company?

              Might Leaf out of San Rafael makes a very good English Breakfast. The cost for their loose leaf is not bad at all and it's organic:


              I also second Cicely's love of Harney & Sons' tea. I actually don't like their English Breakfast, but their Earl Grey Supreme and Black Currant are amazing.


              3 Replies
              1. re: dotMac

                Mighty Leaf loose tea is superb. We must have 10 different bags of Mighty Leaf loose teas in the cupboard. Drink it all the time...I prefer it to coffee. They have frequent specials where shipping is free.

                I like putting a pinch of loose tea in a glass mug and leaving it there. It settles to the bottom when finished steeping. Don't need no fussy strainers and tea balls. The Mighty Leaf tea does not get bitter.

                Paper tea bags are the pits. (ugh!!)

                1. re: chilihead2006

                  Dunno if you can get it in SF Bay Area but my in laws (who are South of England English) swear by Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire tea/Yorkshire Gold tea. Does come in paper tea bags or packets as they are called in England though -- but since that is what the OP requested, it may serve :-).

                  1. re: grayelf

                    There are lots of places to get Taylor's. Mollie Stone's (the old Tower Market) has a British section, as does Andronico's. As noted, Leland has a good stock of British teas.

                    I picked up some reasonably priced teas ($5-6 for 4 oz loose) at Haig's on Clement yesterday including a delicious Kenyan that would hold up well to milk and sugar. Both Taylors and PG Tips are sold there.

                    Mighty Leaf is local (they had a lovely bar called Tea and Company on Fillmore some years ago). You shouldn't need to mail order it unless you want something exotic. It's sold at Whole Foods.

                    Many local Arab markets stock Ahmad teas for a reasonable price. Their Earl Grey is quite good. New World Grocery on Geary also sells it.

                    Mollie Stone's
                    851 Cherry Ave # 22, San Bruno, CA

              2. Hi -

                I'm also an English Breakfast fan but have been drinking Earl Grey more recently... I really like Taylor's Harrogate's version. I haven't had their EB yet but may be good..


                Cal Mart in Laurel Heights and Marketplace in Emeryville carries it.

                1. I am partial to the Secret Garden Tea House across from Golden Gate Park for a lovely teatime experience.

                  Secret Garden Tea House
                  721 Lincoln Way, San Francisco, CA 94122