Twinings UK vs. Twinings USA - is it just me?


I visited the Twinings shop in the Strand this past summer and stocked up on tea to bring back home to the States with me. There seems to be a much more extensive selection of Twinings blends available in the UK than what we get here, but there were also the familiar popular favorites such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
I have been a happy Twinings customer many years. I was surprised when I got home to find that the tea I had purchased in London tasted much different than the Twinings I was used to getting here in America. The British version seemed to have a much richer flavor, but I thought at first it might just be my imagination.
Therefore, I decided to do a taste test. I ordered some of the US Twinings English Breakfast tea bags from their website, figuring that it would be fresher coming directly from Twinings rather than from the supermarket. I made two 20 oz. pots of tea. The first pot contained the British tea, using two tea bags. The second pot contained three US tea bags (because there is less tea per bag in the US version). I figured that would allow for any differences in strength.
I concluded that the British version is much better than its US counterpart - which I cannot understand, because although the US tea is packed in North Carolina, it is, according to the label, blended in London. Therefore, Twinings English Breakfast should be the same throughout the world, except perhaps for the packaging, right? But I am more convinced than ever that these are two different blends of tea.
I also tried the same experiment with Twinings Earl Grey, and while the difference is less prounounced, there IS still a difference. As a result, I seem to have lost my taste for Twinings' US offerings and when my supply runs out will probably only purchase the imported versions online.
Has anyone else noticed this or am I just crazy??
Reply to
Piculet

You're not crazy, so that should be a relief, eh? They are very different animals for sure. In fact in my local grocery store they have a world section and in the British section you can buy real UK Twinnings tea and it is the only Twinings I even consider. (although I'm still no Twinnings fan) I have seen a few folks around here say that they only drink the UK version over the US counterpart, so my guess is that you were spot on.
Reply to
Dominic T.

It's a mute point on how crazy you are. They closed the Greensboro N.C. plant. You will continue to see export blends for particular markets primarily based on price points. So if you like the London blends you'll need a source.
Jim
Reply to
Space Cowboy

So by price points you mean that certain markets are only willing to pay so much for a particular type of tea - and that the ones who are willing to pay less get a lesser quality of tea? Because I didn't really notice much price difference between the tea I bought at home and what I bought in the UK.
I can understand tailoring the products to local tastes - and that is why, I assume that we see blends like Ceylon Orange Pekoe and Irish Breakfast here in the States which are not available in the UK. And why Traditional Afternoon and Assam are available in the UK but not in America. (Actually I suspect that Irish Breakfast and Assam are the same blend, but some marketing research might have suggested that an "Irish" blend might not sell well in the British market).
But I always assumed that English Breakfast and Earl Grey were English Breakfast and Earl Grey everywhere. I figured that the export tea bags contained less tea because the Brits like their tea stronger (and rightfully so) than most other countries do. But you may be on to something because the export blend is definitely different from what the Brits are drinking.
If they have closed the North Carolina plant, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the blends we are getting here in North America.
Reply to
Piculet

All the big commercial tea companies target export markets with pricing. The rest of the world buys tea on price points and market differentiation. I wouldn't get too hung up on price points versus tea taste. If you are imprinted on a particular Twinings London blend then nothing else will do. I stock my share of penny/gram Indian,Ceylon,Chinese and enjoy every cup. Most commercial teas aren't meant for export and maybe you can find them in your local ethnic market. My guess Twinings will cease in the US market.
Jim
Reply to
Space Cowboy

Over 20 years ago, I thought Twinings Earl Grey had a wonderful flavor. Now what I get seems bland and lemony. The true bergamot flavor just isn't there. MLB
Reply to
mlbriggs

I doubt that very much. Twinings holds a considerable share of the specialty tea market in the US and is doing quite well here. From the 2005 financial results of Associated British Foods, the parent company of Twinings:
and profit growth supported by a significant investment in brand marketing and new products over the last two years. This included double digit growth for Twinings in the UK and US and for Ovaltine in its three key Asian markets: China, Thailand and the Philippines.
Reply to
Pat

I know what you mean. I grew up drinking Lipton and discovered Twinings when I was in college and thought it had to be the best tea in the world. I loved the Ceylon Orange Pekoe but I don't really like it at all anymore. And I agree that their British blends are better than their American ones.
I don't think the products change so much as our taste does. When Lipton was my reference point, the Twinings I got in the supermarket was superb. But now that I've tried other teas, it doesn't excite me so much anymore.
I used to occasionally treat myself to some British teas - like Twinings, PG Tips, Typhoo - and save them for weekends or special occasions - and drink teas like Red Rose or the US Twinings for "every day". It didn't really bother me to switch back and forth and there didn't seem to be a huge difference. But then I found some good online deals for some of the British teas - and began buying it by the case. I started drinking it every day because it would have hung around way too long otherwise. And after a steady diet of nothing but British teas for several months, I found it impossible to go back to my old stand-bys. I now know how the Brits feel when they come here are disappointed in our tea. I have found that Tetley British Blend will do in a pinch when I can't get the "real thing", but most of the time I just buy tea from ethnic markets and from online sources.
Reply to
Pat

I thought I was crazy too. My sisters friend brought some Twinings English Breakfast bags on her visit from the UK. I had some and loved it. It was so rich tasting. I then bought some from Ralphs....suspiciousluy of course. It was definitely not the same. Pete
Reply to
ostaz

The difference is not subtle. The blends for the US and UK are clearly different. This wasn't the case 20 years ago either, but it is very obvious today with most of the Twinings varieties. I don't know why; perhaps they believe American tastes are different, or perhaps they really are foisting cheaper teas off on us. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra.  C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
Reply to
Scott Dorsey

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Can anyone tell me what the difference in packaging is between Twinings British and Twinings American? Someone said they were able to buy the British type at their store, I'd like to know what I'm looking for should I come across it and decide to try it.
Melinda
Reply to
Melinda

I think American tastes probably are different. I am American but my taste in tea is very British. I prefer a strong, dark hearty cup of tea. I like it to be so dark that it looks like coffee in the mug (unlike the Brits, I don't usually add milk). Most Americans drink their tea a lot weaker. Many people who have tea at my house seem to think it is too strong, and when I have tea at other peoples' houses, it is usually way too weak. I am also inevitably given an endless of choice of fruit flavors to choose from, which I don't like. The only flavored tea I like is Earl Grey.
Come to think of it, the "milk" issue may account for the difference in blends. Teas in Britain are usually taken with milk, so they have to be stronger. Most Americans don't take milk, so the tea doesn't need to be as strong. I just happen to be one of the few oddballs who likes tea strong and without milk.
Twinings and other tea companies have probably done some market research indicating that certain blends will sell better in certain regions of the world. It is unfortunate that we in the USA always seem to get a weaker, "watered down" version of tea because then people never get a chance to develop a taste for the really good stuff.
I wish tea in the USA was more like what is typically sold in Canada - stronger, heartier, 3 grams of tea per bag (as opposed to the 2 grams typically in American tea bags).
Reply to
Pat

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The American boxes seem to be those familiar solid-color, traditional ones.
The British boxes are much more modern looking, with photos of pretty people and bold graphical elements. They'd actually fit in rather well on American shelves, but then we wouldn't get the "Britishness", which, I think, is at least 80% of its selling points to Americans. The British site wouldn't have a picture of a guy in a powdered wig anywhere on it.
And the product lines are different. The American line has more varieties. From what I saw, the British line is more limited, with just an "Everyday tea", a "1706", and an "African" blend, plus a number of greens and tisanes.
Looks like their marketing department treats the two sides of the Atlantic as totally separate marketing paradigms.
Just for a laugh, I looked through the other countries' websites (see www.twinings.com for the selector box):
Australia: still different packaging graphics, but the site is still mostly following the "look how traditional and British we are". Has most if not all of the American-market products.
Russia: looks like the American tins, though I don't doubt they're printed in Cyrillic; the powdered wig is gone, but there's an old delivery truck. Looks like similar product to the other non-British sites.
International: pretty much indistinguishable from the American version, save the inclusion of a come-on for something called the "two-day detox plan" which would probably send the FDA into fits of advertising regulationism (and rightly so).
Wait. The "two-day detox plan" is in the American site, too, but buried a bit. Hmm. Looks like it lacks protein. Some sort of vegetarian hoodoo. Meat is good for you; stop eating crappy, fatty meat like McDonald's (Burger King etc.) and you'll feel a lot better.
--Blair
Reply to
Blair P. Houghton

The British line is much more extensive than that. Aside from the new (and very good) Every Day Tea, 1706 (also very good) and the African blend you mentioned, the British line consists of:
English Breakfast Assam Traditional Afternoon Ceylon Chai Keemun Yunnan Darjeeling Lapsang Souchong Earl Grey Lady Grey Organic English Breakfast Organic Earl Grey Decaffienated Earl Grey Decaffienated Traditional English
plus the "Twinings &" line which is black tea with fruit flavors, as well as a fairly extensive line of green teas and herbal tisanes.
To answer Melinda's question in a nutshell: the Twinings teas sold for the UK market are in back boxes with a gold-embossed Twinings logo, whereas their export teas are generally in the plain colored boxes we typically see in US supermarkets.
Reply to
Pat

Wow, then I really have not run into the import Twinings in any stores...I'll keep my eyes out for it though. Thanks for the help.
Melinda
Reply to
Melinda

Would you share your on line sources? I'd love to find some really tasty Earl Gray. The Red Rose tea I find at Albertsons is, in my opinion, tastier than Twinings. I'll admit to aging tastebuds, but would still like to try to find something I really enjoy. MLB
Reply to
mlbriggs

The best prices I've found are at: www.britishtea.com. They've got an extensive selection of teas from Great Britain and Ireland. I used to drink Red Rose all the time, but I sort of lost my taste for it after I started drinking the British teas on a regular basis. I find now that I don't like anything that comes in an American-style string and tag tea bag. There just isn't enough tea in them. I have to have the Britsh style bags, which all have 2.5 to 3 grams per bag, vs 2 grams in the US style.
Britishtea.com has the UK Twinings selections. I like their Earl Grey, but there are plenty of other brands to choose from as well.
Reply to
Pat

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