Tetley takes pride in 175 years of bringing Britain together over a quality cuppa
Tea Tin from the early 20th century. Tea Maestro collection.
Tetley Tea, one of the UK’s favorite household tea brands, has announced its 175th anniversary and they are celebrating how it has helped bring the nation together over a communal cup since 1837. 
It’s no small matter that 42 percent of all beverages drunk in the UK are tea, and Tetley is undoubtedly one of the most recognized icons of British tea history.
It’s in the bag!
Technology has helped Tetley quench the British thirst for tea through innovative ideas, such as the introduction of the first tea bag to the UK market in 1953. Then in 1989, as the teapot became less popular and people drinking tea from mugs, Tetley created the round tea bag.
Sue Whitecross has been with the company for 38 years. She remembers when the factory broke the record in 1974 for the largest number of tea bags produced in a week with 40 million. Now the factory can make that in a five-hour shift.
Tata is Tetley’s parent company
Tetley was founded in 1837 by Yorkshire salt merchants Joseph and Edward Tetley when they decided to add tea to their repertoire. The company became one of the UK’s first purveyors of tea to the mass market. In 2000, India’s largest corporation, Tata, acquired the iconic brand as part of their global tea line.
Tetley Tea Taster, Calcutta
I visited the Tata tea tasting room in Calcutta a few years ago and met the resident tea taster. Every sample of tea being considered for purchase must first pass his taste test. A cadre of assistants carefully weigh, brew, and cup each sample. Row after row of tea cups are placed on rolling trays that form a tea train moving down long tables toward his waiting lips.
All the tea samples are allowed to come to room temperature, and many are stirred with a spoonful of milk to see how the tea binds with milk – a very important feature for the British market.
I watched him slurp, swirl, and spit 450 cups of tea – before lunch – while quietly voicing his comments to a nearby scribe. His daily notes determine what the Tata buyers offer at auction for those teas. 
This unheralded tea taster serves a vital role in insuring the quality – and profitability – of the 40 million teabags which Tetley’s whirling tea bag machines spit out each day.   
And his wheeled spittoon is the tallest I’ve ever seen!

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