TWININGS TEA SHOP
Welcome to a 300-year-old tea shop that brought tea to the English people, not to mention the Queen herself.
You’ll have to excuse the exoticized Chinamen figures atop the Twinings
tea shop doorway at 216 Strand. They’ve been sitting up there for about
three centuries, in which time the cultural acceptability of such
caricatures has lessened, and tea is more often associated with British
gentry than with Chinese merchants.
As a young man Thomas Twining apprenticed under an East India Company
merchant, importing goods from exotic locales, coffee and tea in
particular. Twining’s mercantile career began in 1706 when he opened a
small storefront on a busy London
thoroughfare called the Strand. He called it Tom’s Coffee House, and it
soon became a popular gathering spot for fashionable aristocrats.
Despite the fact that his shop was dedicated to coffee, Twining soon
garnered a reputation for having some of the finest tea blends in
London. Within a decade he ceased selling coffee entirely and almost
exclusively sold dry packaged teas. This allowed women to partake in
tea-drinking at home as well, as coffee houses were male-only
establishments. Twining expanded his business, opening up more shops,
and eventually growing it into the tea empire it is today.
Though we think of Britain’s relationship to tea being as old as the
nation itself, the drink had only been introduced in the 1660s by a
Portuguese queen. With the expansion of East Indian trade and merchants
like Twining though, tea quickly became the national beverage.
Today Twinings is synonymous with the history of British tea. Over
300 years later, the original Twinings shop on the Strand is still in
business. The Twinings logo, a simple, gold sign bearing the company
name, has remained unchanged since 1787, making it the oldest corporate
logo still in use. In 1837, Queen Victoria granted the company a royal
warrant, a merit which has given Twinings the honor of providing tea to
the royal family ever since.
Clancy's comment: Tea anyone? I love all of their teas, but especially Earl Grey.