By the end of the 19th century, when tea became more affordable, many tea merchants emerged in Britain. Consequently, many tea brands appeared in this country
Lipton. The ‘yellow label’ brand
One cannot refer to English tea without mentioning Lipton. This British tea merchant is world-famous. Everyone would recognise a yellow label tea bag.
This brand appeared in the 1890s thanks to its creator, Sir Thomas Lipton, who bought several tea plantations in Ceylon and planted tea trees there. Before that he had lived in the United States, so he was very good at managing his business. Therefore, he knew perfectly well how to advertise his tea.
Some ten years later there were over 200 Lipton shops in Britain. The Lipton slogan that read “direct from tea garden to tea pot” became famous all over the world.
Twinings. The classical brand.
Twinings is one of the greatest and oldest tea merchants in Britain. In the early 18th century, Thomas Twinings opened his coffee shop in the City of London. With the growing popularity of tea, they started selling tea in his shop. A very important tradition that Mr Twinings originated was drinking tea from a cup, rather than a mug. Incidentally, it is thanks to this custom that afternoon tea lovers choose very nice porcelain cups for this ritual.
Another important thing that Mr Twinings created was 100 gram tea boxes. They have become a Twinings ‘trademark’ all over the world.
Fortnum and Mason. The luxury tea merchant in Britain
Fortnum & Mason is a famous luxury department store in Piccadilly, London. Their magnificent façade in ‘eau de Nil’ colour (which is their signature colour) cannot fail to attract attention! This store is very well known for its fine grocery section as well as for their impressive tea collection!
It was in 1707 that two British businessmen, William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, established their shop. The first department of F&M was the fine grocery department, that would satisfy the most sophisticated tastes of the aristocracy and the rich. Given that tea was very expensive in those days, it had a reputation of a luxury product. Therefore, F&M created a very fine tea collection in their store, which became their trademark later on.
To this day Fortnum & Mason tea maintains its popularity due to its exceptional quality. However, it is still horrendously expensive. Furthermore, F&M is a perfect place for tea tasting, as well as for afternoon tea! The store boasts a charming tea room, where you can try most of their teas, accompanied by afternoon tea treats.
Finally, afternoon tea is not the only tea tasting tradition in Britain. There are many other customs related to drinking tea. To learn more about those, please refer to our article “Tea Tasting in Britain“.