The Untold Truth Of Twinings Tea

A cup of Twinings has the potential to reveal a great deal of modern "tea" gossip, not just about those who revel in a hot cuppa, but how the world came to identify and adore the mighty tea leaf steeped in boiling water. At first supermarket glance, a Twinings tea box has a posh British logo, a trademark golden yellow tincture, and a name that maintains three centuries of reputable quality worldwide. A look of legacy imparts a tolerable level of British authority and kindly compels stubborn U.S. citizens to decisively grab a box.

The lure of Twinings tea extends beyond supermarket shelves. In 2020, Twinings' 216 Strand location in London won Tripadvisor's Travellers' Choice Award, granting the famous flagship store the honor of being in the top 10% of Tripadvisor attractions worldwide (via Twinings UK). Far off fans can sleep easy knowing Twinings creates over 600 tea flavors and exports to 115 countries around the world (via Licensing International). The Twinings tea supping experience embodies our innate inclination to be surrounded by other people. Since its ancient origins, tea was always "an infallible social space-filler" (via BBC). It just took a British tea shop pioneer to identify a Western world niche that needed filling and run it all the way into the 21st-century. Here is the very telling untold truth of Twinings tea.

Coffee was the UK drink of choice prior to Twinings

Contrary to popular belief, the United Kingdom was not always a united tea nation. Eighteenth century Britain preferred coffee, gin, and ale at breakfast time (via Twinings UK). Boiled or distilled water concoctions were often the safest beverage, and after learning about tea imports, Thomas Twining realized he was sitting on a tea leaf gold mine.

In 1706, Twining bought centrally located Tom's Coffee House to exploit a rare tea intellect and to implement a marketing plan that parallels modern strategies (via Twinings UK). Twinings was the country's first public tearoom, expanding royal tea access to include the eager London aristocracy (via Travel Awaits). With a seed planted in the heart of London's the Strand, it didn't take long for tea to grow into a globally recognized British emblem. Years later, high-tea gatherings and tea parties speak to old-school celebratory tradition.

Twinings has the world's oldest unaltered logo

Twinings tea boasts worldwide recognition with colorful packaging, a London stamp of approval, and bold black font that contrast with a royal gold background. But the iconic image is older than you might think. According to Time, Twinings holds the record for "the world's oldest unaltered logo in continuous use."

The Twinings logo was not only intentional, but also representative of tea's global roots and passionate British nationalism. Eighty years after the shop's 1707 opening, Richard Twining I, Thomas' grandson, designed and introduced the historic Twinings logo that sits above The Strand's shop entrance to this day (via Twinings UK). The small but mighty design is discrete, but if you look closely, tea enthusiasts can spot the symbolic lion crest commemorating business founder Thomas Twining. The logo is prominently featured at the entrance of the Twinings 216 Strand storefront. If London tea is calling, explore the flagship location and peep the quaint storefront entrance that changed the outlook for modern tea drinkers across the globe.

The Twinings flagship was likely the first shop in the world to sell dry tea and coffee

After establishing authority in the newly anticipated world of tea, Thomas Twining decided to pursue an expansion project. In 1717, he grew 216 Strand three-fold. According to Twinings UK, this was most likely the very first dry tea and coffee shop in the entire world.

But the demand for dry tea and coffee tells the story of a male-dominant 18th-century Britain. The new hot beverage was trending, and upper class women were hip to the movement. Cultural precedent left women waiting outside, while their male partners indulged in fashionable hot beverages (via Twinings UK). But the Twinings reputation was spreading quickly, and women wanted to join in on the fun, and It took Thomas Twining's marketing and sales genius to shape the outlook of a nation's tea obsession. Thanks to Twining's dry tea supply, now persistent female tea drinkers could brew the tea in the comfort of their own home. Who knew making a product available to half the population would be good for business? 

The Queen of England enjoys a daily cup of Twinings tea, but her go-to cuppa is a secret

Twinings has a long-standing royal relationship, and Queen Elizabeth does her duty every day to cordially solidify the partnership. The royal connection took shape in 1837, when Queen Victoria prescribed Twinings as the crown's official tea supplier (via Country Living). Twinings flaunts the prestigious Royal Warrant for tea to this day, and the bond has yet to be broken (via Twinings UK).

According to Express UK, the queen enjoys a cup of Twinings tea every afternoon, often with a decadent baked good accompaniment. But any juicy details regarding how the queen takes her tea are pure speculation. Stephen Twining, a 10th generation family member, is the only person on earth with distinguished knowledge of Queen Elizabeth's tea order, and he is sworn to secrecy (via Town & Country). That being said, rumors are not foreign to the British royal family, and the queen's tea preference is no exception. According to a former Royal Chef, she enjoys Twinings Earl Grey with a little milk and no sugar (via Town & Country). Whichever tea the queen prefers, one thing is for sure: It must be impeccably brewed to Queen Elizabeth's high standards.

Twinings blenders taste more than 3,000 cups of tea a week

With innovation and precision at the heart of the Twinings tea mission, it's no surprise that the company's tea blenders are passionate about their craft. The expert sippers engage in numerous tea-testing sessions in order to maintain fan-favorite standards and create cutting-edge products to join a tea-obsessed audience (via Twinings USA). In all, the team consumes approximately 3,000 cups of tea each week. The centuries-long tea love affair matches expert tea blenders' enthusiasm and echoes throughout the company and the world.

A lot of work goes into the tea blending process in order to maintain Thomas Twinings' 18th-century reputation. Hundreds of Twinings-approved tea varieties circulate worldwide, with product ranges pushing the tea bag envelope (via Twinings USA). All that tea tasting pays off when customers can enjoy the fruits of Twinings labor, from early Earl Grey inventions to the popular English Breakfast tea and innovative cold infusions. London locals can visit the 216 Strand flagship store and witness firsthand the commitment to tea excellence with a tea masterclass tasting experience.

Twinings approached Lady Gaga to be a brand ambassador

Legendary singer and actress Lady Gaga knows a thing or two about stirring up the status quo. In 2010, she introduced a new tea etiquette during a New York Fashion Week performance, one that utilized teacups and saucers as fashionable accessories. As a result, fans and major tea companies gained new insight into the superstar's drink priorities, and TNT magazine went so far as to declare Gaga to be "arguably the world's most iconic tea drinker." It didn't take long for global tea brands such as Twinnings to approach Gaga for a potential collaboration.  

The Gaga-induced tea hype generated a bidding war, and Twinings — who sought to use Gaga's fame to ramp up a younger tea market audience — became a front runner (via Cosmopolitan UK). Unfortunately, talk of a massive brand partnership eventually faded and Gaga's face never graced a Twinings tea box.

Nicole Kidman entered a Twinings tea box design challenge

Twinings captured headlines in 2017 when 33 artistically-inclined Australian female celebrities entered a company design competition for charity. Daily Telegraph reports that Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman was among the participants in the challenge, creating a piece of art that celebrated Morning Tea, a Twinings flavor that, per the company, is "inspired" by women. Twinings Australia brand director Audrey Green spoke to the company's global impact explaining, "'We wanted to celebrate our 300 years of women and Twinings tea because we're proud that all those centuries ago Thomas Twining opened the world's first teahouse to welcome women'" (via Inside FMCG).

Challenge participants were asked to tap into their own creative inspiration and create a design for the Morning Tea package. Kidman's design featured an elegant teal-toned box with vibrant red flowers (via Daily Telegraph). Fellow Aussie Carrie Bickmore took the ultimate prize, but Kidman's finalist placement landed her tea boxes in stores across Australia with all proceeds donated to her chosen charity, the children's charity Variety.

Twinings made a 2019 cameo on Saturday Night Live

When acclaimed British actress Emma Thompson hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2019, it seemed fitting that the writers would figure out a way to integrate tea into a sketch. The result was a commercial for "Twinings Extreme," a satirical tea-based sports drink for English athletes. The hilarious commentary pokes fun at tea-loving Brits, but the humor would not have been possible without Thomas Twining.

The faux "tea for sport" commercial, which didn't it make it air but can be viewed on the "SNL" YouTube page, introduces three "lively" Twinings blends: English Breakfast XL, Darjeeling Octane, and Earl Grey RX. Teapot and teacup sightings join flashy sports graphics, cricket match jokes, and portable tea kettle contraptions to prove Britain's commitment to tea, sport, and an engrained Twinings' innovative presence countrywide. Not only does the parody skit play to England's historic Twinings tea connection, but also captures a company with worldwide brand recognition. As the commercial (jokingly) claims, the three Twinings teas are "available wherever sports teas are sold."

Twinings gunpowder green tea used to cost a small fortune

Eighteenth century Twinings tea was undoubtedly a drink reserved for wealthy Brits who could afford novelty tea prices. How expensive? Well, in 1706,100 grams of Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea sold for the equivalent of over $260 (via Daily Telegraph). To put the price into greater perspective, 100 grams of Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea currently sells for around $7, nearly 40-times cheaper than it was three centuries ago.

Gunpowder tea is woven into the fabric of British tea consumption. As an imported Chinese Zhejiang province product, it didn't take long for Britain to impart their own national identity with an acculturated "gunpowder" reference, referring to tea leaves that are "tightly rolled into little pearls which look like pellets of gunpowder" (via Twinings UK). Over the next three centuries, Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea would mirror the global evolution of tea itself, adapting to modern demands and becoming a universally consumed hot beverage.

Twinings and Jacksons of Piccadilly both claim Earl Grey ownership

On brand with the country's passionate tea banter, Great Britain has an Earl Grey tea skirmish between two tea empires. Twinings claims they were the first to invent Earl Grey tea after Charles, the 2nd Earl Grey, returned home from China in 1831 with lasting black tea impressions (via Twinings UK).The story seeks to solidify the company's avant-garde tendencies and to claim proud ownership of the beloved beverage which fuses black tea with bergamot, a lemon-like citrus.

Old Twinings competitor Jacksons of Piccadilly seek the same recognition. A 1928 Jacksons of Piccadilly advertisement for their Earl Grey asserted "the reputation of this tea has led to many imitations." It goes on to describe their Earl Grey as the "genuine blend" (via Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum). Today, Jacksons of Piccadilly falls under the Twinings banner.

Disputed history aside, British tea aficionados take Twinings Earl Grey very seriously. According to NPR, Brits were furious when Twinings added extra citrus flavor to the dependable Earl Grey Tea recipe in 2011. Safe to say, Earl Grey tea has brought the drama ever since captivating the Earl's 19th-century heart.

Twinings tea was pardoned from Boston Tea Party events

The Boston Tea Party is central to early United States history. To this day, Boston Tea Party references serve as a rallying point for American independence from Britain. The Boston Tea Party museum in Boston, Massachusetts documents the 1773 events, when protestors dumped an estimated 92,000 pounds of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act (via History). But Twinings tea was spared.

So, why did Twinings tea avoid harbor docks? Shortly after opening, Twinings tea leaves travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to the U.S. Fortunately for the British import, the Boston governor was an early fan, and thus, Twinings tea was spared (via Twinings USA). Leave it to governorship fandom to save Twinings tea from taking a permanent dip in the Boston Harbor.

But the tea sparing didn't leave the Twining family fully satisfied. Talk of tea and revolution crossed the ocean once more, and in collaboration with Twingings, subsequent Prime Ministers worked to make the beloved drink more accessible to middle and lower class citizens (via Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum).

British Airways teamed up with Twinings to formulate a tea fit for flight

Starting in February 2013, Twinings Tea and British Airways partnered for a tea blend designed for optimal enjoyment while flying. Detailed testing and tasting was essential to the Twinings process. The signature blend had to meet Twinings' company expectations, with flavorful adoration at the forefront.

Airplane food and drink gets a notorious bad wrap. But the truth is, eating in the sky does not taste the same as ground-level dining. British Airways researchers concluded that "taste can be reduced by up to 30% at 35,000 feet" (via Twinings UK). Because of this, the land-bound tea testing process was greatly tweaked. Tea blend experiments took place both on the ground and in the air, and after much trial and error, the perfect blend of Assam, Kenyan, and Ceylon leaveas was the winning combination. The partnership reinforces an unwavering commitment to taste, quality, and exceptional sipping experience, even at 35,000 feet.

Twinings China partnered with Peter Rabbit for a branded tea line

The Twinings brand embraced a youthful whimsicality when they joined forces with Penguin Ventures, signing a deal that would incorporate the iconic story-book character Peter Rabbit into a unique tea-inspired product line. The Beatrix Potter books preserve over a century of story-time fame, and in 2020, Twinings China recognized this unlikely partnership claiming, "'We believe this luxury tea brand complements the heritage of Peter Rabbit perfectly'" (via Licensing International).

The eight-item product range includes pastel pink and blue tea tins, tea cups with animated Peter Rabbit illustrations, and of course, the infamous Twinings logo. After Peter Rabbit graced cinema screens, kids all over the world saw the adorable bunny come to life. A range designed for the child in all of us, the Peter Rabbit themed tea-ware brings the world of tea to life through the eyes of a friendly storybook character, matching a legendary fine tea with extraordinary children's literature.

Earl Grey bubble tea gets the Twinings stamp of approval

Innovation runs in the Twinings family. So when bubble tea went big league, a seasoned Twinings company embraced the trendy drink with a refreshingly current English tea adaptation. Bubble tea (also known as boba tea) — beloved for its pleasantly chewy tapioca pearls and sweet milky tea base — went mainstream in Taiwan during the late 1980s.  appeal. Today, bubble tea is a global phenomenon with plenty of Instagramable appeal. According to CNN, the industry is expected to grow to $4.3 billion by 2027.

Twinings jumped in feet-first to the trend with an original bubble tea recipe of their own (via Twinings UK). With a British rendition of their own, the recipe incorporated the Twinings Earl Grey blend with all the necessary bubble tea components. Cooked tapioca pearls, sugar syrup, and sweetened condensed milk welcome the brewed Earl Grey with open arms. All that's required is a an extra-wide straw (or spoon) for efficient sipping purposes.