Re: As you might expect...
'My early experience of tea in rural Ireland was that it was boiled for several hours before serving.'
Indeed, my Mother's family has an Irish branch and if the tea wasn't like tar and didn't have a minimum of 3 heaped spoonfuls of sugar in it, it wasn't tea.
This isn't limited to Ireland, the rest of the family are Scots, and apart from one 'genteel' family branch we all had tea boiled like tar. My earliest memory of tea was having a billy cup of a hot strong sweet black liquid lovingly brewed/stewed over a oil barrel brazier for 20 minutes or so on a building site my father and uncles were working on back in '68-69, ok, I was 4-5 years old (health and safety? hah! this was back in the good old days...).
I find it hard to find a decent blended tea nowadays, Lyons Red Label was the most drinkable for years, but the taste has changed, probably a new blend which now doesn't work with my local water supply, so usually stick to Darjeeling.