The Twining family originates from Gloucestershire, where they were weavers and fulling millers. When recession drove the family to London in 1684, nine-year-old Thomas Twining, who would go on to be the founder of the tea business, went with them.
In London, Thomas initially followed in his father’s footsteps by taking an apprenticeship with a London weaver. However, by 1701, the ambitious young Thomas began learning a new trade from an East India Company merchant, Thomas D'Aeth. At that time, the East India Company was importing many exotic new products from around the world, including tea.
Thomas was fascinated by the possibilities offered by this increasingly popular beverage, and by 1706 had learned enough to strike out on his own. It was in that year he created Tom's Coffee House on London's Strand and so began the world famous tea business.
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.
With success came expansion. By 1717, Thomas had acquired three adjacent houses and converted them to a shop. This house is now number 216 Strand, the famous Twinings shop that exists today. After 300 years, the Twinings shop is still thriving on the Strand.
By the time of his death, Thomas Twining was serving customers with royal connections. His son, Daniel, was the first Twining to export tea and ledgers show that by 1749, Twinings tea was sold to America. The Governor of Boston was a customer and when American patriots dumped English tea in Boston Harbour a few years later, a distinguished writer noted: “…it was not Twinings tea the Boston rebels tossed into the sea.”
Nearly a hundred years later, Richard Twining blends the original Earl Grey tea at the request of the second Earl Grey, who later became Prime Minister of the UK. Twinings Earl Grey remains the only Earl Grey tea that is endorsed by the Earl’s ancestors today.
“Twinings has been blending my family tea for years. Legend has it that my ancestor, the second Earl Grey, was presented with this exquisite recipe by an envoy on his return from China. He liked it so much he asked Richard Twining to recreate it for him. Generations of my family have enjoyed Earl Grey tea and today, I am proud to continue the tradition with the tea celebrated throughout the world known as Twinings Earl Grey.” – The seventh Earl Grey.
In 1837, Queen Victoria granted Twinings its first Royal Warrant for tea – appointing Twinings as supplier of teas to her household. Twinings has had the honour of supplying every successive British Monarch to date.
Twinings first blends its famous English Breakfast tea.
When World War II began, 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, producing tea for Red Cross prisoner-of war parcels, the Women's Voluntary Service, and many YMCA wartime canteens.
Twinings makes tea bags for the first time.
Twinings first blends its exclusive Lady Grey® tea – a softer, more elegant version of the original Earl Grey tea developed by Richard Twining in 1831.
Twinings becomes a founding member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, an organization working to create a fairer, more sustainable tea industry for tea workers, farmers, and the environment.
Twinings partners with Keurig® to produce K-Cup® Pods for the first time, introducing a fresh new way to brew the perfect cup of tea.
Launched in 2016, Sourced with Care is Twinings’ tea and herbs responsible sourcing programme. Sourced with Care aims to improve the lives of the communities where we source our teas and herbs. The programme focuses on three key areas: life opportunities, living standards, livelihoods and land. Find out more about how our work makes a social impact in the world.
In 2020 Twinings launched Cold Infuse, a delicious range of herbal water enhancers that offer an easy way to drink more water and stay hydrated. Each silky infuser includes a blend of the finest fruits and herbs, specially blended to brew in cold water to give you a light, refreshing beverage you can drink anytime, anywhere. Simply drop, leave, shake… and enjoy! #LivenUpYourWater
In 2022, Twinings launched its new “Drink in Life” campaign, bringing vibrancy and positivity to wellbeing drinks and inviting consumers to share in the optimism of our reinvigorated brand. Showcasing our new Superblends™ collection, “Drink in Life” demonstrates how these products help consumers feel good, live well, and enjoy life.
Twinings Superblends have been crafted with added vitamins and functional ingredients to taste great and help do you good.
More than 300 years later, passion for tea remains - and so do we. We still sell tea from Thomas's shop on the Strand in London, and we still hold the Royal Warrant for tea. We take pride in continuing to bring the most exciting new blends to tea lovers around the world.
Now, we have over 500 varieties and our teas are cherished worldwide. Each blend is developed at our global headquarters in England, where our expert Master Blenders taste more than 3,000 cups of tea every week. With over 250 years of combined experience, our nine Master Blenders are responsible for buying, blending, and tasting each blend for consistency and quality so that you can be sure the next cup you sip will be every bit as good as the one yesterday or the day before.
From their UK facilities, our Master Blenders work closely with global New Product Development teams to ideate and create the next generation of tea and botanical beverages to delight consumers around the world. From this central hub, our teams constantly review the world tea markets, working with suppliers and liaising with the production facility in Poland that manufactures blends for our North American customers to ensure the best quality tea is delivered to our customers.
The Twining Family
We wouldn’t have our beloved tea without the Twining family. They have shared their love and passion for fine quality teas for hundreds of years and passed on their incredible knowledge from one generation to the next. So far, ten generations of the Twining family have been there to watch it all happen, from the creation of our famous English Breakfast blend to supplying tea to the Red Cross for food parcels during war.
Stephen Twining is our Director of Corporate Relations in the International Marketing Team and a Master Blender. Stephen represents Twinings at tea conventions around the world, spreading the Twinings message across the globe and ensuring that Thomas's promise of innovation and quality is never broken.