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An Afternoon with Stephen Twining

“No sugar in the tea, please,” said Stephen Twining, the 10th generation of the tea clan. Having arrived in Malaysia to celebrate the namesake brand’s 310th anniversary only a day before, the Englishman’s schedule has been nothing but hectic. From photoshoots to hosting an afternoon tea party and doing rounds of interviews, he remained patient and was happy to share his experiences and passion for tea with BAZAAR.

Stephen Twining

Stephen Twining

How would you describe the perfect afternoon tea experience?

Never talk about religion, politics, or if any guys are present, sports. Anything that’s going to get the blood pressure up or argument going on because it’s all about sitting back, relaxing, and having a very civilised time.

We are living in a coffee culture world, so why tea over coffee?

I think tea is making a comeback, particularly in coffee-drinking countries; people want a healthier lifestyle. But it has to be enjoyable and taste good. And when people are working out eight cups of coffee a day, it is not necessarily that healthy. Also, tea is just a relaxing drink.

Fun fact: Did you know that the citrusy Earl Grey was originally blended by Richard Twining under the request of Prime Minister Charles Grey himself?

The citrus Earl Grey was originally blended by Richard Twining in 1831 under the request of the British Prime Minister Charles Grey himself.

What have you seen change throughout your journey as a Twinings tea ambassador?

People are more knowledgeable, know what they want because they want a particular tea at a particular time of day—and that’s most encouraging.

How do you have Twinings appeal to the younger generation?

The most important thing is to give them information because they’re (millennials) very information hungry. My understanding of one of the features of a millennial is that they like authenticity, and we’ve always been true to our values.  I don’t think we’re going to change to woo the millennials but we’re very happy to tell them that we are absolutely authentic, and we can give you a great tasting experience.