In 1600 Queen Elizabeth I granted permission for the East Indian British Company to establish ports, and trade routes to Britain called the John Company on 31th December. They originally traded with eastern countries for silk and salt but started to concentrate on tea in 1670.
Tea became popular when King Charles II married Portuguese royalty Catherine de Braganza. Part of her dowry was a direct trading route with Indian ports making tea more accessible. As Charles and his new bride were avid tea drinkers when they returned to England in 1662 they brought with them the tradition that started as afternoon tea. It very quickly became very popular as it usually goes, whatever royalty or higher society did so did everyone else. The mania spread quickly in the wealthier classes and soon replaced ale as the national drink of choice.
Charles II was crucial in establishing trade with the East India Company, as long as the people were not Christians; he used military force to extend his powers over the monopoly to occupy routes and ports.
By 1700 tea houses where springing up all over London and shortly more than 500 were open just for tea drinking. It was fast becoming a fashion when Queen Ann in 1714 chose tea with her breakfast instead of the usual Ale. The term high tea was established purely from the fact that when tea was drunk it was served on high tables to be sat at with a chair instead of reclining on cushions on low tables nearer to the floor.
English breakfast tea is the most popular blend of tea and comes from Assam, Kenya and Ceylon. This tea has been enjoyed by Queen Victoria and is a black blend described as rich, robust and full-bodied. It is a strong tea and unlike so many can carry the addition of milk and sugar.
Basically we don't have a breakfast coffee, that is more of a European tradition, but during the 1800 there were only two main meals a day. A breakfast consisting of bread and beef or pork drank with ale or beer. A huge dinner. Afternoon tea was more of a lighter affair with finger foods and cakes. More of a pick me up before the largest meal of the day.
The name English Breakfast originated in America by the colonies who took as much as they could carry to the new world. It is a taste that is welcome at any time of day as a pick me up, a comforting relaxing brew and a refreshing taste. This tea is high in caffeine and can be as stronger than some coffees.