Tea was officially introduced to England by the young Portuguese wife of King Charles II, Catherine of Braganza, in 1662. She served it to her aristocratic friends and soon tea became the fashionable drink of the day.
Thomas Twining was fascinated by the possibilities offered by this fast-growing beverage. In 1706 he bought Tom’s Coffee House on London’s Strand and began his tea business and the fashionable classes soon began to frequent the establishment to buy tea.
Tea became increasingly fashionable during the early part of the 18th century, though ridiculously high taxes meant that it could only be afforded by the upper classes. By 1717 Thomas had acquired three adjacent properties and converted them into a tea shop.
Richard Twining took over the business in 1771. The Commutation Act of 1784 slashed tea taxes and at last made tea affordable to all.
Today, Twinings continues as a marketer of tea, selling a variety of regional and flavoured teas and the company still sells tea from Thomas Twining’s original tea shop. Twinings has been owned by Associated British Foods since 1964.