1662. CATHERINE OF BRAGANZA INTRODUCES TEA TO ENGLAND
Tea was officially introduced to England by the young Portuguese wife of Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, in 1662. She served it to her aristocratic friends and soon tea became the fashionable drink of the day.
1684. TWINING FAMILY MOVES TO LONDON
The Twining family originate from Gloucestershire where they held occupations as weavers and fulling millers. Despite their close ties with the countryside over many centuries, recession drove the family to London in 1684. Nine year old Thomas Twining who was going to be the founder of the tea business went with them. In London, he initially followed in his father's footsteps by taking up an apprenticeship with a London weaver. Attaining a trade was an essential to becoming a Freeman of the City of London - the key to any future business career. The ambitious young Thomas Twining became a Freeman in 1701 at the age of 26. By that time he had turned his back on weaving and was learning a new trade working for a wealthy merchant and handling some of the early shipments of tea.
1706. THOMAS TWINING PURCHASES TOM'S COFFEE HOUSE
Thomas was fascinated by the possibilities offered by this fast-growing beverage. He learned well and quickly and by 1706 knew enough to strike out on his own. It was in that year he bought Tom's Coffee House on London's Strand and so began the world famous tea business.
The location of the shop was perfect. The coffeehouse straddled the border between Westminster and the City of London, an area that was newly populated with the aristocracy as a result of the Great Fire of London.
1707. THOMAS TWINING OPENS THE GOLDEN LYON
In a time when coffee was king, one man, Thomas Twining, went against the tide to share his love of tea. His passion would turn a little-known drink into the nation’s favorite hot beverage.
Knowledge of tea gave Thomas Twining a competitive edge over other coffee houses. Despite high taxes and opposition from vested interests, the fashionable classes flocked to buy tea from Tom's Coffee House.
Competition between coffee houses was stiff. Fresh ideas and unusual promotional twists were what kept the business alive. The difference at Tom's was the tea.
Soon Thomas Twining was selling more dry tea than wet. He even sold it to competing coffee houses. But only the wealthy could afford to drink tea. In 1707, Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea sold for a price that is equivalent to £160 for 100g in today's money.
1717. THOMAS EXPANDS STRAND
By 1717, Thomas had acquired three adjacent houses and converted them to a shop. In those days there was no numbering but it was this house that is now number 216 Strand, the famous Twinings shop that exists today. This was probably the world's first dry tea and coffee shop. After 300 years, the Twinings shop on the Strand is better than ever before.
1741. DANIEL TWINING TAKES OVER
By the time of his death, Thomas Twining was serving customers with royal connections. His son, Daniel was the first Twining to export tea. His ledgers show that in 1749, Twinings tea was being sold to America. The Governor of Boston was a customer. The Governor's tea seems to have got through without mishap. When, a few years’ later, American patriots’ dumped English tea in Boston harbour, a distinguished writer noted: “…it was not Twinings tea the Boston rebels tossed into the sea.” With success came expansion.
1762. MARY TWINING
Another interesting heroine in the history of Twinings was Mary Twining née Little. She was married to Daniel Twining, son of Thomas. In 1762 when Daniel passed away, she took over and ran the business for 21 years until 1783. It was unusual in those days for a woman to run a business. At the time, taxation on tea peaked and a lot of tea was smuggled into the country from France and Holland where it wasn't taxed as much. In order to maximise their profits smugglers would adulterate the tea in order to turn 1kg of tea into 2kg.
1771. RICHARD TWINING
Richard Twining took over from his mother in 1771. Richard's knowledge of the tea trade was supreme. At a time when tea was high on the political agenda, his negotiating skills made him a natural choice for Chairman of the London Tea Dealers.
1784. THE COMMUTATION ACT
As head of the tea trade, Richard had the ear of William Pitt, the Prime Minister. He argued persuasively that revenues would be greater from lower taxation. High levels of duty only served to encourage smuggling. Pitt listened and he acted. The Commutation Act of 1784 slashed tea taxes and at last made tea affordable to all. This marked the beginning of tea-drinking as part of everyday life and in that fact the tea revolution!
1787. TWININGS CHOOSES ITS LOGO
In 1787 Richard Twining I., Thomas’s grandson, commissioned the entrance way which you can still see today. It depicts a golden lion and two Chinese men as well as the new Twinings logo. The lion is lying down which is interpreted as a sign of respect towards Richard’s grandfather Thomas, the founder of the business. The two Chinese to the left and the right if the lion represent the trade with China. For a very long time China was the only country of origin for tea. Today, it is the oldest commercial logo that has been in continuous use since it was made
1837. QUEEN VICTORIA MAKES TWININGS AN OFFICIAL ROYAL WARRANT HOLDER
In 1837, Queen Victoria granted Twinings its first Royal Warrant for tea – she appointed Twinings as supplier of teas to her household. Twinings has had the honour of supplying every successive British Monarch to date.
1910. TWININGS OPENS ITS FIRST SHOP IN FRANCE
1933. TWININGS FIRST BLENDS ITS FAMOUS ENGLISH BREAKFAST
1939. TEA DURING THE WAR
When World War II broke out, neither bombs nor rationing could halt the flow of morale-boosting cups of Twinings tea. Tea-rationing, which had been introduced the year before, also failed to damage the business. Twinings continued to supply wartime Britain with tea. Twinings produced tea for Red Cross prisoner-of war parcels, for the Women's Voluntary Service, and for many YMCA wartime canteens.
1956. TWININGS MAKES TEA BAGS FOR THE FIRST TIME
1972. TWININGS BECOMES THE FIRST COMPANY TO WIN THE QUEEN'S AWARD FOR EXPORT
2004. SAVE THE CHILDREN
In 2004 we started working with the fantastic charity Save the Children and 10 years later together we helped over ½ million children in tea growing communities. Find out more about how our work makes a social impact in the world.
2007. TWININGS 300 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Twinings celebrates the 300th anniversary of English tea. The tenth representative of the Twining family, Stephen Twining, continues to work in the company at present.
“The philosophy of our company is quite simple,” he says, “we have dedicated ourselves to producing the highest quality tea and try to make it affordable for everyone.
Today, Twinings produces over 200 types of tea. The company is recognized as a world expert in tea blending. But before you get into your hands, Tea Twinings takes a long journey. The company's products are not just tea, but the result of a long search. Representatives of the company travel around the world in search of the best varieties of tea, then experts mix them up to get high-quality tea blends.