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Tea democratised (part four)
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John Horniman was one of the earliest retailers to see the potential of this approach. In 1826 he was the first to sell pre-weighed, pre-packaged and labelled tea. This had a number of advantages. While the tea was guaranteed to be unadulterated, its weight was clearly marked on a foil-lined packet which kept the leaves fresh and safe from dirt. Another advantage was that Horniman could use the packet, together with targeted advertising campaigns, to promote his name. Horniman’s Tea soon became a recognisable and reliable brand.

Other merchants followed suit, each promoting their own ‘unique selling point’. In the 1840s, businessman John Cassell developed a successful tea business focusing mainly on the working-class market. He flooded the industrial north with his affordable ‘Tinfoil Packages, from One Ounce to One Pound’. At the time, his was the only tea that could be bought for just a shilling. Cassell later invested in a printing press, creating his own tea labels and printing his first magazine, appropriately named Teetotal Times from which he built a publishing business.

Tea democratised (part four)

Mazawattee often used the image of two ladies drinking cups of tea in its advertisements. The younger lady is enjoying a spot of tasseography, the practice of reading tea leaves.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Lipton’s developed a successful brand based on catchy slogans, bright packets and effective advertisements. They became famous for creating blends specially suited to the different regions of Britain, using the slogan: ‘The perfect tea to suit the water of your town’. Lipton’s famous Yellow Label, developed in the 1890s, was an instant success and, although it is no longer available in Britain, it is still sold in Continental Europe, North America, Australia, the Middle East and Asia.

Tea democratised (part four)

From the 1880s, Lewis’s of Liverpool (here shown in an early twentieth-century photograph) started selling its own brand of affordable teas.

One of the most successful tea companies of the nineteenth century was Mazawattee, founded as Densham & Sons in the 1870s. Their name is a combination of the Hindi word ‘mazza’, meaning ‘pleasure’ or ‘luscious’, and the Sinhalese ‘vatta’, meaning ‘garden’. To develop its brand, the company decided to show an image of an old woman and a young woman enjoying a cup of tea on their advertisements. This clever device was particularly successful. Mazawattee, along with other tea companies, also featured images of the royal family, especially Queen Victoria, on their products and advertisements. This certainly helped add a certain prestige to their name. During the twentieth century, tea companies continued to use people or characters to represent their brand. Brooke Bond’s PG Tips chimpanzees were perhaps the most famous: introduced to the British public in 1956, they were familiar faces on television until 2002.

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