Angry Earl Grey drinkers demand return of Twinings' old blend

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Furious tea drinkers have slammed Twinings for changing the taste of its Earl Grey and are demanding the company reinstate the old version.

Twinings has been attacked by consumers after revamping its Earl Grey in April this year by adding extra bergamot and citrus to the blend and renaming it The Earl Grey.

An article on the Twinings website that asked drinkers for their views on the new blend has received more than 150 responses the majority negative.

Among the comments were: "It is vile. I shan't be buying any more of it"; "What on Earth were you thinking of?"; and "Why would you want to change something that was already perfection?"

Some consumers said they were seeking out boxes of the old blend left on supermarket shelves, while others have set up a Facebook group called 'Bring back the original Twinings Earl Grey tea'.

Twinings said it conducted extensive market research before changing the product, and claimed the decision to do so was prompted by calls for a more refreshing blend. "As with all changes to blends, our new Earl Grey has undergone rigorous consumer testing, receiving strong preference feedback over the previous blend," said Twinings brand manager Lindsey Williams.

Despite the complaints, sales of Earl Grey are now higher than before the new blend was introduced. Volume sales soared from 57,976kg in April to 87,123kg in May immediately after the revamp when the tea bags were on promotion and dropped back to 63,070kg in the four weeks to 9 July [SymphonyIRI].

Read more
Twinings misses out on £11m EU grant (6 June 2011)
Twinings freshens up its Earl Grey offering (16 April 2011)

Readers' comments (3)

  • I don't know what Twinings thinks they are doing here. The original Earl Grey was perfectly fine, they proudly claim "Great Taste Gold 09" on the old box, I can't see the new 'The Earl Grey' winning any awards any time soon.

    I expect any 'soaring' sales are attributable to fans of the old style snapping it up where ever they find it. I know that once I finish my stocks I'll be switching to a different brand if Twinings don't perform a 'New Coke' roll back.

    When travelling to the US I take Twinings Earl Grey with me, as finding nice Earl Grey in the US is hard, however now the new blend tastes similar to the US blend, i.e. like dishwater.

    Asda are currently doing 2 boxes of 50 for £3, I managed to pick up 12 boxes of the old style there the other day. Hopefully that will keep me going for a while.

    I'm hoping that Twinings will see the error of the way when the old style tea leaves the supply chain and the sales fall off a cliff.

    Here's hoping.

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  • It seems like an enormous own-goal on the part of Twinings. Smaller brands should make the most of this though as I point out in my response at http://dasteepsspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/08/if-it-aint-broke-dont-fix-it.html

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  • My purchases of Earl Grey have gone up about 10,000 percent since Twinings ruined it: my local Costcutter got its supply from a cash & carry with enormous stocks of the original, and they very kindly got as much as they could in for me (enough for the next three years). I agree that temporary sales spikes are probably due to other people like me hoarding as much decent tea as they can find.

    I feel Twinings are lying about their reasons for changing Earl Grey ("we listened to our customers!"), and that's what I find most galling. The original box had all this waffle on it about how old the blend was, and how it was perfected by their expert tasters and won a best taste '09 gold award. I don't believe a company that employs expert tasters and blenders will suddenly turn to the man on the street and ask him how they should make their tea instead.

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