An Irish Tea — the perfect St. Patrick’s Day party!

Soda bread and butter for tea. Photo: Catherine Hadler,

The Irish population of the Bay Area will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17th with the rest of the world, but the local festivities will actually begin on the 13th with the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade in San Francisco.  Since “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” according to tradition, why not set some time aside for your own celebration?  This should, of course, include not only beer but tea, since Ireland has been a tea-drinking country since the mid 19th century.  Tea and toast was a common meal of the working classes during the Victorian era, and it is a simple and delicious breakfast for us today, but you may want to make it a little more elegant with some Irish soda bread or currant scones instead of the toast.

The tea that you enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day can be green tea – to go with the festive color scheme – or it can be a type that the Irish themselves enjoy: a strong black tea.  Choosing a blend called “Irish Breakfast” is an easy way to do this, but you can also simply choose an Assam blend; Barry’s Tea is a popular brand, available in many San Jose grocery stores.  The Irish prefer their tea strong with lots of milk; some tea-lovers have been known to prefer as much as 1 part milk to 2 parts tea.  Ideally, the tea should be loose-leaf instead of in bags, as Irish-American author Frank McCourt described:

“I told her tea bags were just a convenience for people with busy lives and she said no one is so busy they can’t take time to make a decent cup of tea and if you are that busy you don’t deserve a decent cup of tea for what is it all about anyway? Are we put into this world to be busy or to chat over a nice cup of tea?”
— Frank McCourt (‘Tis: a Memoir)

To accompany that nice cup of tea, here are some Irish tea recipes:

Barry’s Irish Breakfast Tea
Soda Bread and Jam
Shortbread (purchased, or homemade)

In remembering the contributions of the Irish to the United States, we can also remember that San Jose has a “sister city” relationship with Dublin, Ireland.  So make the effort to sit down with a friend and “chat over a nice cup of tea” for St. Patrick’s Day, whether you have your tea at home or bring a tea picnic with you to San Francisco to see the parade.

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub
Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub
“St. Patrick’s Day in San Jose”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality green tea”
“Celebrate the Fourth of July with a tea party picnic!”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Bring a tea picnic to the Bay Area-local Mostly British Film Festival”
Ferg’s Ulster Fry-Up recipe
Irish Bannock recipe
Black Treacle Scones recipe
Barm Brack recipe
Boxty recipe
Irish Culture and Customs
Irish Recipes and Baking
“Irish Tea Traditions,” by Brenda Hyde
San Jose Dublin Sister City Program


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