Today in our series on Royal Warrant holders, we’re going to take a look at Twinings & Co., which has held a Royal Warrant since the reign of Queen Victoria.
Although tea is as quintessentially British as one can imagine, it wasn’t always a staple drink in the country. Tea was only introduced in England, says Twinings’ official website, in 1662 by Catherine of Braganza, the wife of Charles II.
Thomas Twinings opened the first known tea room, called Tom’s Coffee House, in 1706. The business still stands in the same spot today, on The Strand in Central London. Thomas had apprenticed and studied tea with the East India Company prior to this, which gave him an advantage over other merchants of the time.
What set Twinings’ coffee house apart from competitors was his devotion to showcasing tea. Tea was an incredibly fashionable drink with the upper classes, even though tea was highly taxed at the time. .
While tea was considered en vogue among the upper classes, the social customs of the day kept women from patronizing any masculine drinking establishments. Twinings & Co. tea was so highly sought after that women would send their footmen inside to purchase tea while they waited outside in their carriages.
Keeping it a family affair, Thomas Twining’s son, Daniel, had, by 1749, begun exporting Twinings tea to America – but don’t worry, it wasn’t Twinings tea that was dumped into the Boston Harbour during the Boston Tea Party.
Today, Twinings & Co. holds two impressive records: its logo, which was created in 1787, is still in use today, making it the oldest continuous commercial logo in the world; and its original location in the Strand is still in use 310 years later.
Tea has been so popular in Great Britain over the centuries that not even tea rationing during the Second World War could damage Twinings & Co.’s sales. In fact, the company began to supply tea for the Red Cross, for the Women’s Voluntary Service, and for YMCA wartime canteens at this time as well.
In 1837, Twinings was granted its Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria, and has served every successive monarch since then.
A Royal Warrant is granted by the Royal Households of Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales; and only after the goods or services have been supplied for at least five of seven years.
In the morning, it’s reported that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II likes to drink Twinings English Breakfast tea, which is brought to her promptly at 7:30 am; while for Afternoon Tea at 4:00 pm, she prefers Darjeeling or Earl Grey teas.
Today there are more than 500 tea varieties available through Twinings in more than 100 countries around the world.
Read further on Royal Central about the customs of Afternoon Tea.