Twinings has started selling its classic Earl Grey tea again - but not through the supermarkets.

The 300-year-old business has faced a consumer backlash since it revamped its Earl Grey tea in April by adding extra bergamot and citrus to the blend and renaming it The Earl Grey.

After The Grocer broke the story two weeks ago, it made headlines across the globe, with the publicity boosting membership of a Facebook group called ‘Bring back the original Twinings Earl Grey tea’ from 48 to almost 900.

Demands for the return of the previous version of the tea have now been answered to a degree. Last week, Twinings started selling it direct to consumers through the Twinings website. It still produces the previous version for the Russian market and is selling the tea, dubbed Earl Grey The Classic Edition, at £1.19 for 25 bags. Free postage and packing means consumers are paying about the same through the website as they would for the new version of the tea in store (rsp: £2.39 for 50 bags).

“We will be able to offer classic Earl Grey indefinitely as it is sold in Russia where they have similar tastes in tea to the UK they drink a lot of strong black tea,” said Jon Jenkins, Twinings general manager for the UK and Ireland.

But he added that there were no plans to make Earl Grey The Classic Edition available to UK retailers and claimed that, despite the backlash and publicity, he had received no requests from supermarkets to do so. “Because there are so few spaces available on shop shelves, it is simply not practical to have two blends running side by side,” he added.

Jenkins said sales of The Earl Grey had been strong since the revamp and claimed it had grown the size of the Earl Grey tea sector as a whole by 12%. “The reaction has shown how passionately consumers feel about the brand,” Jenkins added. “We are watching the figures closely, but I doubt the publicity would have hurt sales.”