London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

Twining’s Tea Museum and shop – the oldest shop in Westminster

While surprising to many who view England and Tea as synonomous, coffee was all the rage in London in the 17th and early 18th Centuries.  But in 1706 Thomas Twining wanted to change that.  He bought “Tom’s Coffee House” on London’s Strand and converted it to his ‘Tea Shop’.  Since 1706 Twining’s has operated the shop becoming London’s longest continuous rate payer for a specific property.  Over the years Twinings has become one of the largest tea companies in the world.  Their logo is the oldest continuously used company logo in the world.  It is the oldest shop in the City of Westminster and over the years has created many blends and tea varietals including Earl Grey (creating for the British Prime Minister, Charles Grey (PM 1830-1834).  Located just outside the City of London in Westminster, the shop did a strong trade with the wealthy that settled and built in this area after the Great Fire.  While coffee shops were popular with men and often attracted clientele with common interests, a tea shop was different and did not become so gender specific.   With less competition, tea became fashionalbe – it was new and different.  In addition to selling the drink, the shop started selling loose leaf tea for people to take home.  Before long, the sale of dry tea was significantly more lucrative for the Twining family.

Today the shop offers the visitor exposure to a full range of all the tea varietals, leafs and blends for tasting or purchase.  A visit really creates a better understanding of the history of tea in England.  Their small museum contains a variety of unique and interesting items.  There are old teapots and caddies (some owned by Horatio Hornblower), family historical items and photos and more unusual items from the world of tea, including a tea bag once used by P.G. Wodehouse and a set of tea spoons made by A.A. Milne during his “Tea Period.”

Open Mon – Fri 8.30am – 7.30pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 10am – 4pm.  The shop and small museum have no admission fee.  Tea tastings can also be arranged but call 0207 353 3511 for details and to make an appointment.

Located at: 216 Strand, London, WC2R 1AP

Closest tube: Temple

2 comments on “Twining’s Tea Museum and shop – the oldest shop in Westminster

  1. Harriet
    October 4, 2012

    I love tea, but I just don’t find this shop exciting. Maybe it’s because as you enter you have tea bags surrounding you, and to get to the real, lose leaf, tea you need to walk past all the odourless white bags. Didn’t know this was the oldest shop in Westminster though, thank you for sharing this info!

      October 4, 2012

      Thanks for reading my blog and commenting on this post. I appreciate it. I agree that a shop that sells tea (bag or leaf) has limited appeal, but given the unique history of this shop and the family behind it makes I think this makes it a valuable part of London.

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2012 by in Free Activities, Museums (Historical), Shopping, Westminster and tagged .
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