Ireland is one of the largest tea consumers per capita in the world, and the history of Irish tea is similar to that in England. Tea was initially introduced to the upper class in Ireland the early 1800s and later spread to the rural and lower classes. The tea that was available to the average Irish citizen was usually of poor quality and brewed strong on the stove all day long; Irish tea is served with a lot of milk due to the tea’s strength.
The history of tea in Ireland diverged from England at the beginning of World War II. Up until that time, Ireland received most of its tea from the English auction houses. However, during the war, Ireland took a neutral stand and refused to allow Britain to use its western ports, so Ireland began importing its own tea direct from source, and the Irish tea profile adjusted. Irish tea is often referred to as “cupan tae” (meaning “cup of tea” in Gaelic) or just “cuppa.” Irish tea is served generally three times a day; 11:00 in the morning, 3:00-5:00 for afternoon tea and a high tea at 6:00 pm, serving as the evening meal. Many think of high tea as formal or fancy, but it's actually a working man's tea that serves as a meal. Afternoon Irish tea is the more "fancy" of the three teas-the one with scones, breads, jams, and other foods.