Whittard of Chelsea

by Priscilla Liu

Whittard Logo

Whittard Logo

How did your tea shop Chelsea of Whittard get started?

Walter Whittard established his tea company in 1886, trading at 165 Fleet Street. He certainly leapt in at the deep end, because it was the busiest year in the history of the tea business in England, with Chinese imports reaching their highest, and tons of 'Empire' tea pouring in from India.

Within a few years Walter Whittard had branched into coffee. He was selling the well-established origins from South America and Indonesia, and also saw the last of the Ceylon coffee of the late 1890s, before coffee blight destroyed all the crops. As well as Indian and China teas he would have seen the arrival of the 'new teas' from Ceylon and Kenya.

Whittard was a City of London merchant, based from 1901 in Mincing Lane, and from 1904 in Mansell Street near Aldgate. There was plenty of business at that time to hotels and cafes, who were offered 60lb tea chests at 2s.4d (two shillings and fourpence) a pound. Individual customers were more interested in the Firm's specially blended Russian Caravan; renamed Caravan China after the Board of Trade took exception to the inclusion of the word Russian!

One of the first jobs each morning for Hugh when he started work in 1920 was to get the kettles filled at the Aldgate pump so that only the purest water was used for tea tasting.

The General Strike of May 1926 brought new problems. Additional 'boys' were employed to make deliveries by bicycle, and with electricity cut off during the day, Gard the head roaster went in at night.

The move to Chelsea came in 1940, after a direct hit on the Mansell Street premises during the Great Fire Raid of 29th December. Walter's two sons, Hugh then Dick ran the business successfully in Chelsea through the De-rationed 50s, Swinging 60s and Revolutionary 70s. They lead the movement away from House Blends and into new origin coffees; they saw the revival of herbal teas and the start of the flavoured tea boom.

Giles Hilton joined in 1976, just in time for the 'foody' 80s with greater awareness of origins, flavour and health. He took over quite a list of contacts and insists that many of the Whittard teas and coffees are still bought directly from the producing estates. Buying direct ensures support and a fair deal for the farmer, and the best quality product.

Where are you based?

What is unique about your tea shop?
We are tea specialist since 1886.

Which of your product is your personal must-try?
First Flush Darjeeling.

Which are your top best-selling products?
Dreamtime Instant Tea.

Is there anything else you want to say?
I would like to introduce as many people as possible to the world of tea and coffee

It really is as simple as that. Being experts in tea and coffee, we have stories to tell, we enjoy spreading the news and engaging people, and every day we pass on our many years of knowledge and experience.

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Comments for Whittard of Chelsea

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Nov 29, 2009
very, very best
by: gapiela@poczta.onet.pl

Yours "WHITTARD of CHELSEA DETOX" ( tea with aniseed, fennel ind liquorise) is the best!!!

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