Twining’s Tea and the First Tea House | Tea History

Thomas Twining, Founder of Twining's Teas

In the 1600s, the newly fashionable pastime of drinking tea spawned an industry.

In the mid 17th century gathering places were almost all tavern-like coffee houses, and catered exclusively to men. They served wine, ale, rum punch, and coffee, but did not serve tea.

The First Tea House

In 1657, Thomas Garraway of Tom’s Coffee House in London, England became the first to  add tea to his menu. The event that created quite a stir in the community.

The Beginning of Twining’s Tea

In 1706, Thomas Twining purchased Tom’s Coffee House, renamed it Twining’s and added his own twist to the mix. He began to offer tea for home consumption. Twining had been working with the East India Company earlier in his career and knew about teas. He used the shop to gain advantage against the stiff competition from the abundance of existing coffee houses.

Tea had been gaining in popularity, especially amongst the aristocratic circles, and Twining quickly built a reputation for selling the finest teas. His tea room, Twinings, at 216 Strand in London, still operates today.

In 1717, Twining expanded his store to encompass three adjacent houses, and by 1734, was selling almost exclusively tea.

Tea Comes to America

After Thomas died in 1741, his son Daniel Twining took over the business and began exporting tea to America in 1749. One of his customers was the Governor of Boston.


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