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I read from wiki that:

Assam (Assamese: অসম, Hindi: आसाम, and also Hindi: असम) is a black tea named after the region of its production, Assam, in India. Assam tea (Assamese: অসমীয়া চাহ, Hindi: असमिया चाय) is manufactured specifically from the plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Masters).1 This tea, most of which is grown at or near sea level, is known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color. Assam teas, or blends containing Assam, are often sold as "breakfast" teas. English Breakfast tea, Irish Breakfast tea, and Scottish Breakfast Tea are common generic names. [3]

Is it true? I need Assam tea for brewing a good cup of Chai Tea. If they are the same stuff, then I don't need go down to Chungking Mansions' indian store for it. ( I live in Hong Kong ) I can just grap one English Breakfast Tea in supermarket.

However, in this wiki about English Breakfast Tea, the tea leaves could also come from Ceylon and Kenya:

English Breakfast tea is a traditional blend of teas originating from Assam, Ceylon and Kenya. It is one of the most popular blended teas and the most common form of British tea culture. It was initially known simply as Breakfast Tea, and was popularised by Queen Victoria.

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Can I ask why you need Assam tea specifically for making Chai? I would have thought that any strong, good quality black tea would work fine. –  Henrik Söderlund Sep 3 '12 at 14:20
    
If the English Breakfast Tea in the supermarket doesn't have labelling which tells you roughly what it contains then you're probably better off going to the specialist shop anyway. –  Peter Taylor Sep 3 '12 at 15:00
    
Indian chai that you buy from the chai wallahs is actually masala tea not assam. Assam is a black tea and is used with other leaves in tetley tea bags sold in the UK so it is very similar to english breakfast tea. Indian chai is spicy and very different. I suggest popping down to Chunking and buying some masala tea for the authentic chai experience. –  user16837 Feb 17 '13 at 5:06
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I believe that 'English Breakfast Tea' is a very broad definition and doesn't refer to an exact blend; each manufacturer has their own version of it. I would say that English Breakfast Tea often includes Assam, but as your Wiki source suggests it also contains other teas. Therefore Assam is a separate tea.

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In answer to your question, yes, you can use English Breakfast to prepare masala chai, but it will probably be better if you use assam or second-flush darjeeling. A more robust Chinese black provide a good flavor as well.

What is English Breakfast exactly?

English Breakfast is a blend of black teas which gives a richly colored liquor, full-bodied flavor, and relatively high caffeine level. Generally it is a blend of assam (for body, malty and darker earthy flavors), Kenyan black (for color), and Ceylon (citrusy & flowery notes, for richer, more complex flavor). Fancier English Breakfast may include a dash of other things, such as Chinese Keemun, which has body similar to assam, but a different flavor, with notes of fruit, pine, flowers, smoke and honey, and less malty flavors.

Note that original English Breakfast included a lot of keemun, rather than the assam that currently dominates.

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