Twinings Museum and shop on the Strand and the House of Twining was founded byThomas Twining (1675-1741) when he purchased the original Tom's Coffee House at the back of the site in 1706. He then 'shock horror' introduced tea and in 1717 opened the Golden Lyon on the site, to sell both tea and coffee.
In 1787 his grandson Richard Twining (1749-1824) built the handsome doorway incorporating his Grandfather's Golden Lyon symbol and two Chinese figures. Twinings is believed to be the oldest company to have traded continuously on the same site with the same family since its foundation. Government tax returns do substantiate this claim.
In addition to the Twinings shop is a small museum at the rear, containing tea-related paraphernalia collected over the course of 300 years sales to the public. Amongst its exhibits is a wooden box displaying the initials T.I.P. – short for “To insure promptness”. Patrons of coffee houses, in which tea was first drunk in Britain, would drop a penny or two into the box, to encourage quick service. Where the word “tip” comes from.
Very close to Dr. Johnson's House and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub, it's worth including in a visit. Somewhere to stock up on unusual gifts for the nearest and dearest. There is a suitably vast range of teas, especially difficult-to-obtain fruit varieties. Right at the back is a table and several cabinets containing the exhibits.
Oh - and another tip. If you twist the dials on the front of the coffee containers, they will deposit beans all over the floor. As a young, red-faced visitor discovered when I was there. Though Twinings were not in the least put-out by the mess - being the professional outfit that they are.
Open Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm.
Twinings Tea Museum and Shop, 216 Strand, London WC2R 1AP.
Nearest Tube: Temple.
Call: 020 7353 3511