The charming entrance
Twinings tea shop is tucked away on the Strand directly opposite the imposing Royal Courts of Justice. The shop frontage is only as wide as its doorway and reputedly the smallest shop front in London. Above the door are statues of a golden lion and two Chinamen, a reminder of the origins of tea.
The long, narrow shop
Stepping inside is like walking into a tardis, this long, narrow shop has shelves stocked with a wide range of teas.
The well stocked shelves
Twinings is an internationally renowned specialist tea company whose products are sold all over the world but this is its original shop. It is said that this is the oldest shop continuously run from the same site by the same family in London. The business has been run by ten consecutive Mr Twinings.
The company started back in 1706 when Thomas Twining purchased Tom’s Coffee House in Devereux Court, just behind Strand and quickly the company expanded into adjacent properties. At the time coffee was the more popular drink and tea was an expensive and exotic commodity imported from China. However Twining quickly saw the potential and specialised in selling good quality tea.
Although tea became a fashionable drink in the early 1700s it remained a luxury product enjoyed only by the wealthy as it was heavily taxed. It is said that the tax was only reduced when Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger sought Mr Twining’s advice. Twining suggested that the tax on tea be reduced to prevent smuggling. This then resulted in an increase in legitimate sales and government revenues.
The small museum filled with a range of interesting items
It is at the back of the shop where its secrets are revealed. Lining the walls are cabinets full of tea related artefacts from vintage advertisements and packaging to tea caddies.
"Tea and Tea Drinking" by Arthur Reade - love the cover of this illustrated guide
A selection of products from the 1930s
Tea caddy beautifully decorated with inlaid wood - dating from the 1800s when tea was an expensive comodity which was kept securely under lock and key
The sampling counter is delightful it's where customers can enjoy tea tasting prepared for them by a knowledgable member of staff. This is a great idea as it enables one to taste a couple of products prior to purchase.
Address: Twinings, 216 Strand, London, WC2R 1AP
Nearest Tube Station: Temple is in Travelcard Zone 1 and is located a few minutes walk from Twinings.
Opening Hours: Open daily
Museum and Sampling Counter: Free
If you enjoyed reading this you might also like reading our blog about Afternoon Tea.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds.