Twinings industry workshop

Student Co-Creator, Sam Applebee

Twinings industry partner event at Pearson College

Sam Applebee, Student Co-creator and President of the Pearson College Student Association, has given us his account of a recent industry event with Twinings. 

Tenth generation Twining and tea enthusiast Stephen Twining recently visited Pearson College to give students a rare glimpse into the inner workings of his family’s 300 year old business.

Stephen’s whistle-stop account of the tea trade’s history was infused with intriguing tidbits about everyday life that in fact originate from tea. Take the traditional tea houses dotted around the City of London in the 18th and 19th Centuries, for a long time the sole preserve of men, where the notion of a ‘tip’ was born. You see, when entering the premises in a hurry and not wishing to be seated, there existed a serving station with a coin hole set into the counter. One would drop a coin into the hole, and upon hearing the resounding ‘chink’, a staff member would rush to serve you. The service counter would be emblazoned with the initials ‘T.I.P.’ meaning To Insure Promptness. How’s that for a cup of history?

The workshop gave insight into the sheer complexity that the company faces by serving so many different markets. Each nation likes its tea slightly differently, and demands that its prefered flavour tastes exactly the same every time. This would be simple if all tea leaves came from exactly the same bush, in just the some spot, subjected to precisely the same growing conditions day in, day out, year in, year out. If only. Twinings has cultivated an incredibly scientific procedure for the blending of its teas, indeed one which its unrivalled reputation and brand is based on. No wonder Twinings’ employees are tea mad, because this stuff can give you a headache!

The ensuing round of perceptive questions from students would have submerged many a speaker, but Mr Twining, refusing to be dunked in his own beverage, explained how the company has managed to sustain its competitive advantage over such an astounding period of time. Straining through the various elements of his business to pick out the marketing, technological and human factors that have kept Twining at the pinnacle of this age-old industry for so long. The secret it turns out, aside from working tirelessly to keep abreast of constant environmental change, is to just add water.