In 1706, Thomas Twining opened his first tea room in London. By 1831, Twinings company had launched its first brand of Earl Grey tea, a brand and taste that would remain consistent and intact for 180 years…that is, until this year.
In April, Twinings tea, one of the most famous tea makers in Britain, launched the new blend of Earl Grey, one of the most beloved teas on the market. The original Earl Grey has a distinctive taste – black tea with the oil of the bergamot orange from South-East Asia. The new taste adds more bergamot and a strong lemon flavor.
The change in blends has caused a tremendous backlash, similar to the response toward New Coke a few years back. Many tasters have associated the new blend with “lemon cleaning products” or other not-so-tasty elements. Others have expressed their utter disgust in the new product in very unpleasant terms.
So why did Twinings decide to change its most popular brand of tea that is cherished by millions worldwide? Apparently, the company felt the brand needed to be “refreshed” after all these years and that market research reported as such.
It is unclear how data could have supported this idea which many believe was a huge mistake. Instead of paying for tasting research, Twinings might have faired better by reviewing its own British/American history. A little story about the Boston Tea Party may have reminded them that no one messes with British tea and gets away with it.