“Ever since I began drinking tea my favourite has been Twinings. So when planning my first trip to London I knew I had to go. I opted to take the masterclass and booked it early as they are small classes. Hans and the class far exceeded my expectations. I learned about tea, it's origins and types in a relaxed and tea bar atmosphere. It was one of my favourite experiences while in London and I love Twinings tea even more for it. Thank you, Hans! Thank you, Twinings!”
- Jordan, 5 stars
“As big tea fans, we wanted to create our own personal tea blend as favours for our wedding and for home in the years to come. The private blending experience was the best gift and we had such a great time over the two hours with Marta, who was so knowledgeable and patient with us while we worked out our blend. Four of us attending felt like a good number, as we were still able to make decisions on the final blend without it being too many cooks. Would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in tea and wants a lasting personalised gift.”
- Adam T, 5 stars
Private Masterclass - Wonderful Experience!!
“We booked a private masterclass for 20 people and the entire experience was absolutely wonderful. The Twinings staff were a pleasure to work with on planning this event and the execution was truly remarkable. Asha and Isaac worked very hard to ensure all of us had a brilliant time, and that we did. The history of Twinings and the flagship store was very interesting and engaging and we all had a lot of fun creating our own blend of tea (plus marketing it to the group!). Cocktail on arrival and a lovely gift bag with loads of tea given to each of us. Truly unique experience and we will definitely return!!”
- Chelsea, 5 stars
"Great morning spent with Hans learning just about all there is to know about tea! Hans was very knowledgeable & friendly. If you love tea you will love this experience”
- MRSM368, 5 starsRead More Tripadvisor Reviews
A Tasting Experience
Being an avid tea lover, I was looking forward to experiencing a Twinings masterclass in tea tasting and making at their historic shop on the Strand in London. I’m a tour guide in the cities of Rome and London and always looking to lift the bonnet of a city, and try out new sights and sounds and experiences to recommend to friends and tourists.
I thought it would be an interesting and tasty way to spend a morning. I was not prepared to have my mind blown. This was one of the most energetically paced, fascinating and fun experiences I have done in London, and I would recommend anyone to give this a go.
The masterclass covered so much more than I had thought possible, I was enthralled, sometimes even moved to tears and often to laughter. About tea! It was also delicious and fun to taste a huge variety of teas; the whole experience was so incredibly engaging that when the presentation and tasting came to an end, we stood up and gave the amazing Marta a standing ovation.
The Twinings Shop
The master classes take place in Twinings’ amazingly evocative historic shop on the Strand, just opposite the Royal Courts of Justice.
The shop is just over 300 years old, its doorway is listed as a monument and Twinings has the oldest logo of any brand in Great Britain. Yet the interior combines this incredible heritage with a contemporary feel, too. As you enter the shop it feels like stepping back in time; it’s a long, narrow corridor lined with dark wooden shelves arrayed with teas – everyday teas that you’ll recognize and, as you’d expect a huge variety of more exotic loose leaf teas. You’ll find glass jars filled with tea leaves, that evoke the memory of an olde worlde sweet shop – visitors are encouraged to lift the lids and give the teas a good sniff!
Popping into the shop can be a mini-masterclass in its own right.
The Twinings Tea Bar
Towards the back of the shop you’ll find the tea bar, built in neat contemporary lines, complete with bar stools, and where there are always a few different teas on the go ready for tasting.
The Twinings brand ambassadors are all incredibly knowledgeable and friendly and you’ll be made to feel right at home. They’ve created a wonderfully sociable atmosphere – and they are only too glad to share their passion for tea. The shop is often bustling with Londoners and tourists alike.
Having chatted to Natalia, I was excited about starting the masterclass with Marta, an Italian who has eschewed coffee for her preference for tea. Marta’s enthusiasm and engaging storytelling had us enthralled from the get go. The masterclass was incredibly interactive as well as hugely informative covering the 5000-year history of tea, and how Twinings came to shape the world of global tea trading. It was Twinings that helped to bring an end to the skullduggery of tea smuggling and piracy on the seven seas. The tax on tea used to be a whopping 118% which meant tea was incredibly expensive and inevitably led to a black market, in which smuggled teas were often tampered with toxic substances including rat poo. Richard Twining persuaded the government to lower the tea taxation to 12.5%. I hadn’t expected the stories of tea to be so swashbuckling.
Did you know that the Americans were tea drinkers before the English, because of the Dutch tea trading companies being the first on scene. But, and without giving too much more away, I was hastily assured that Twinings had nothing to do with the Boston Tea Party. I also learned the reason why it is only the English who put milk in their tea, but I don’t want to give all Marta’s secrets away.
At each class there are six different teas to try ranging in colour, appearance, flavour and the growing and harvesting processes. My favourite was a tea called “Darjeeling Castleton Moonlight Oolong” whose tips are picked under the light of the moon, on the Castleton estate in the Darjeeling province of Northern India… so romantic. You begin with white tea and follow the spectrum along to yellow, green, oolong, black and aged vintage tea.
It was fascinating to hear about the epic journey of tea, from plantation to cup; as well as the different tea growing regions around the globe – China, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. There was a screen of moving photos behind Marta, which she’d regularly point to, and filled me with a longing to go and see these amazing foreign lands for myself. I discovered a huge amount about Twinings Source With Care programme and investment in local communities to ensure that workers’ conditions are not only fair wages, but they have clean water and access to education too. Before sourcing their tea, Twinings will often work with the community for a few years to ensure their standards are met, before picking the tea, which really impressed me.
I loved hearing about the Twinings master tasters and blenders and discovering just how much time and effort goes into creating each cup of tea. The tasters make many sacrifices for their craft. They eat a bland diet, don’t drink or smoke in order to keep their taste buds at top performance levels, and taste countless cups per week.
Seeing, Sniffing & Slurping
Marta expertly blended her storytelling with tea tasting and taught us how to examine the different teas. Introducing questions like “Has your tea gone through the “cut, tear, curl” process or the orthodox process? What is the difference between black and oolong tea?
Once the tea is brewed she took us on the tasting journey: First you have a look for the oils on top of the water (a good tea should release the essential oils of the tea leaves) then sniff the tea and finally an introduction to the art of slurping.
To round off this two-hour immersive masterclass, Marta’s conclusion resembled a rousing speech. Her passion shone through her crescendo as she declared fervently “so you see tea is so much more than a tea bag… global trade and business was built on tea, nations would rise and fall on it.”
Wow! I couldn’t recommend this Twinings Masterclass more highly. A tea tasting experience suited to young and old, friends and families, office parties and corporate functions, this is such a fun, informative and interactive way to spend two hours.
Tea Experiences and Masterclasses
Discover our extraordinary range of Twinings tea tasting experiences. Join us throughout the day, online or in the heart of London at 216 Strand.A Tea Tasting Experience
Twinings Flagship Store 216 Strand
With over 300 years of history, our flagship store is the oldest tea shop in London. Browse familiar favourites, or discover something different at our new premium loose leaf sampling bar.Come Visit Us
Meet the 216 Strand Team
Our highly-trained staff are here to advise you on all thing’s tea!Meet Our Brand Ambassadors