Until we found ourselves in London, I didn’t think terribly often about Twinings. I don’t dislike their teas, but in the United States they’re primarily a grocery store brand of tea bags, which I don’t tend to purchase often. However, that certainly didn’t mean I wanted to pass up a chance to visit their shop. I only realized after the fact that I’d been to their flagship shop, which has been open for over 300 years! (I initially described the shop as “Dickensian” to my parents, although actually that’s about a hundred years late.) You can see more about their flagship store on their website!
The shop itself is very deep and narrow, with tea and other treats in tidy shelves on either side. They had a few “London Edition” boxes near the front and a variety of shortbread and other biscuits in old-fashioned tins. I picked up a few as gifts (teas and biscuits), and they were very well-received! Considering the generally reasonable prices and the many “buy [number] get [discount]” offers in the shop, it felt quite convenient and successful. The salespeople were very helpful when we had a few questions, showcasing that they were both knowledgeable and polite.
Near the back of the shop is a tea bar with samples of tea brewing in front of a wall of tea canisters. We tasted a variety of teas and enjoyed chatting with the friendly associate manning that station. Twinings teaches “tea masterclasses” in that area, which sounds interesting but wasn’t something we had time for. As I mentioned when talking about Mariage Frères, Twinings promoted their own Darjeeling first flush from 2019 (Chamong estate). (They had the 2018 and and 2019 shelved near each other, and my husband and I spent some time smelling the samples and discussing which one we preferred.)
The part I most enjoyed was the “tea museum” at the back of the shop. A few glass cases housed an assortment of historical tea-related memorabilia. I took several photos, which I’ll share below, although I apologize for the poor quality. My excuse will have to be that it was our first day and we’d immediately begun our excursions after getting out of the airport without any kind of break. Glass cases are always tricky, honestly, due to the reflections. I tried to get a few angles that were less obvious, but most of these would not win any photo awards.
I’m glad we decided to stop in and see the shop! It’s not exactly a tea house anymore, in terms of being able to actually drink tea there other than samples or take-away, unless they had a magical secret tea room area that I completely missed. It was still a lot of fun, and I enjoyed viewing the items in the museum area. It’s fun to see how tea tins have changed and stayed the same.