Twining Scion Reviews Blending Strategy

NEW DEHLI, India

Twinings has learned the secret to worldwide acceptance is to blend to local tastes Stephen Twining told a media gathering hosted by the company.

“When I was eight years old I was asked by my geography teacher to talk about one of India’s largest exports — tea. Armed with samples and a briefing from my father, Sam, who was a director of the business, I gave my first ever tea tasting to a group of 20 of my peers,” Twining told reporters at a lunch hosted at Spectra, a multi-cuisine restaurant operated by Leela Kempinski Gurgaon.

In 1706 founding ancestor Thomas Twining did much the same, introducing tea drinkers to the blended brew in fashionable London where tea remained a beverage of the affluent. After acquiring Tom's Coffee House that year he soon earned a reputation for having the some of the finest blends in London. He expanded his store in 1717 and was soon selling more dry tea than brewed and by 1734 Twining focused almost exclusively on tea, having given up coffee. Today Twinings is sold in 115 countries earning $14.7 billion.

Twinings has sourced tea from India for generations but first entered the market in 1997 with flavours like Earl Grey, Lemon, English Breakfast and Darjeeling. It has since introduced teas like Classic Assam, Green Tea, Chamomile and Peppermint. Ian Gowlett, the managing director of their operations in India, said Twinings now operates a factory in Kolkata which produces 18 different teas available in 20 cities across India, according to Gunjan Batra Deputy Editor of Tehelka, who attended the lunch.

Stephen Twining says the company employs nine tea tasters who double as buyers and blenders. They are trained rigorously to taste up to 3,000 cups of tea a day. Their nose and palate ultimately decide how much Assam, for instance, goes into the best-selling English Breakfast Tea – it's a make or break decision because the blend consists of teas sourced from 15-25 estates (the number varies according to the year) in Assam, Sri Lanka and Kenya. Twining produces more than 200 blends sourced in 31 countries.

"We tweak our blends to suit local tastes," Twining continues, giving the example of Darjeeling tea. For the Indian market, the blend has more of the mellow Second Flush, but the Japanese love the more upfront (and pricier) First Flush, so they get a generous amount of it.

He defended tea bags as a convenience. The smaller the leaves the quicker they release flavours," Twining refuting widespread criticism that bags are packed with 'tea dust' and not 'real tea'. In the U.K. 85 percent of tea is brewed in tea bags, but too quickly he admonished. Tea in bags should be brewed at least three minutes to bring out the full flavor, he said. Source: Mail Today, Tehelka

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