Coffee, gin and ale were the most popular drinks in London in the early 1700. Thomas Twining was tired of drinking gin for breakfast and started selling tea from his coffee shop at No 216 the Strand in 1717 (making it the first tea room in Britain). Although the Chinese had been drinking tea for 1000s of years, the English were suspicious of this new drink. But Twining made a promise of only selling top quality tea and a large variety for all tastes. This promise even caught the eye, decades later, of Jane Austen and many royals through the last 3 centuries.
By the 1750s tea had become the most popular drink in the working class. There was an increase in the availability of tea in coffee houses and tea clippers were regularly docking regularly in London. Garway’s in Exchange Alley had been advertising tea as “making the body active and lusty”, and “preserving perfect health until extreme old age”. This of course angered the pub owners as their sales dwindled, but Twining kept selling tea from his tea room.
The logo was born in 1787, and today it is the oldest company logo that has been in continuous use (note, it has no apostrophe). Queen Victoria made Twinings an official Royal Warrent holder, and in the 1930s Twinings created the famous English Breakfast blend for the Red Cross to add to food parcels during the war.
This passion for tea is still evident with 165 million cups of tea enjoyed daily in Britain (60.2 billion per year), but the Republic of Ireland is just ahead. They are the largest tea drinking nation per capita as they drink between 4 and 6 cups per day.
The expert blenders at Twinings taste more than 3,000 cups of tea every week, which ensures that this quintessential English drink remains an important part of the British culture for many more generations.