Canton Tea and the invention of English Breakfast

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English Breakfast

Did you know that the Canton Tea Co name has been around for more than 170 years? Above is a pic of the St Louis, Missouri outlet in the late eighteenth century. There's a Canton Avenue in St Louis to this day.

When we set up the company in 2007, we chose the name because Canton was the old name of Guangzhou, the traditional port for China's tea trade, and where our buyers live. 

We didn't know then that we were reaching back in time to the pioneering US tea company that invented the world's favourite tea blend. Canton Tea Co was set up by Richard Davies in New York in 1843. Davies was an English apothecary but showed a typical American genius for brand marketing: he decided to create a generic tea blend that would be instantly recognisable to consumers as authentic and consistently good quality. When it came to naming his new blend, the iconic role that tea had played in the American Revolution did not stop Davies from calling it English Breakfast Tea. This name was then quite unknown back in England.

Davies’s EBT seems to have been a mix of black tea (Congou), green buds (Flowery Pekoe) and some oolong (Powchong). The tea was re-exported back to England – and beyond – and soon became the Model T Ford of the tea world. 

Which brings us back to the modern day Canton Tea Co: not only have we pioneered the supply of high-end Pouchong (from Farmer Xu's farm in Taipei county), we also have our own retro, high-end take on English Breakfast Tea: And now we’ve even had a go at recreating Davies’s original blend. Our recipe is based around the original, while still being something those expecting a modern English Breakfast would recognise and enjoy. Its components are Dian Hong (Yunnan Black), Keemun and Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe). We call it Canton 1843.

It always tickles us to remember that jolly old EBT was invented in NYC, and that our name has such an illustrious heritage. We make it our business to live up to it.


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