60

Skip this first part if you just want to read about the tea:

I first smelled this tea in Harrod’s, finding a small, quiet island in the TWG section of the tea department. No small feat, considering it was right before Christmas last year. I sniffed my way through a number of tins and got stuck on the so-called ‘weekend teas’. I snapped a few pictures of the tins and meant to read up on it when I came home, but forgot all about it.

A month later I was in Singapore (I’m sorry for sounding like a demented tea socialite, bear with me), and imagine my surprise when the TWG logo showed up again… and again, and again. I knew nothing about the brand; I’d just assumed it was a trendier spin-off of Twinings, or something.

A quick search yielded the following: TWG is a Singaporean company, carefully branded to be Singapore’s “first and only upscale tea salon”. This was definitely a niche in the Singaporean brandscape that needed filling; tea culture is somewhat lacking, with either imported Japanese concepts where everything is beyond kawaii, or madly overpriced hotel-style afternoon teas.

So far so good, but there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the brand. For instance: the TWG is generally accompanied by the year 1837 on signs and logos, but the brand was founded no earlier than 2008.

This all makes me reluctant, to be honest. Singapore is so entirely about money, all the time; everything anyone ever talks about is money and shortcuts to money and how to get more money and money. I find that depressing, and it’s clear TWG is a pitch perfect Singaporean brand in that respect. They colonize the most exclusive locations, style their shops and salons to the very last detail (tarnished brass and dark wood everywhere), hardbrand the products and charge ridiculous sums of money for everything.

I’m the first to admit I love a good branding effort. I do; I sometimes enjoy giving in and just going with it because it’s done so well, but TWG are just too devious about it, and it’s painfully clear the product is just the sideshow. TWG is all brand and I can’t get excited about that.

Actual tea review:

I added the above to be honest about my TWG prejudice. This is the first tea I’ve purchased from the company, but I’ve tried their products at a couple of their salon locations. I’ve also had their tea-infused ice cream, which is very nice, albeit, again, ridiculously overpriced.

This looks beautiful in the bag, long, whole green leaves studded with red petals. After steeping, the petals turn fuchsia and it’s one of the prettiest steeped teas I’ve seen, colour wise. In terms of scent, well, I didn’t go the adventurous route here – this smells like something I’ve had before, most likely one of those German-imported greens they sell in every tea shop in Sweden. It’s vaguely fruity/floral and that’s it. What more do you need? Fruity/floral is where it’s at!

There are no steeping instructions on the bag, and none were given by the staff (again, one of those things that’ll tell you this is more about the experience and the ritual of shopping, than what you actually purchase) so I did a semi-Lupicia, letting this steep for 1.5 minutes, at 90C. No bitterness, but also not very much flavour – I’m going to try a different steeping strategy next time, not least for you temperature purists out there.

So, to summarize: meh. TWG will not (CAN not) be my new boyfriend (even though I would have loved to get a chance to meme ‘Bye Lupicia!’).

Unlike an actual weekend in Shanghai, this tea bores me.

[Picked up at the TWG Tea Salon & Boutique in Raffles Place, Singapore, January 2015.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Marzipan

Great write up! Really interesting.

Christina / BooksandTea

I agree, more talk about branding when it comes to tea!

Anna

Thanks, guys! One of my fave topics, so hugely appreciated feedback.

OMGsrsly

Kinda how I feel about TWG, Anna! We have a store here and it’s very fancy and pretentious and there’s a tea I want but there’s no way I’d spend $40+ for 50g of it. That’s just silly, especially because I feel their base teas aren’t all that fabulous. (I think I’ve had 4 now. :) ) It is a neat experience to go into the store, but whoa.

Dustin

[email protected] demented tea socialite! You did way more research than I on TWG! I took them at face value for being a much older company! I do like some of their teas, but not all of them live up to what I was hoping for. I used to work for a guy who was from Singapore and your description of the attitude towards money make his behavior make a lot more sense.

Marzipan

More interesting stuff from Wikipedia: In 2011, a lawsuit against TWG Tea was filed by tea retailer Tsit Wing International and its parent company Tsit Wing, for incorporating the abbreviation TWG in its name, which was trademarked by Tsit Wing. The latter company, which is based in Hong Kong, was founded in 1932.13

A judge handling the lawsuit noted in July 2013 that the use of the “existence of the date 1837 in TWG Tea’s sign has led people to believe that the company was established at that time”, while in actuality it was founded much later, in 2008. In justification, the firm’s spokespeople claimed that it was instead a tribute to the “year when the Chamber of Commerce was founded in Singapore”.13 The case was ruled in Tsit Wing’s favour, with damages payable yet to be decided. Shortly after the ruling, TWG Tea filed for appeal.14

On 3 December 2014, TWG Tea lost a court appeal and as a result it may have to change its name in Hong Kong. TWG Tea has room to pursue its final appeal. According to the company’s lawyer, in case the company loses the appeal again, it may use another registered logo containing the acronym “TW” instead of the currently used “TWG”, to which Tsit Wing had no objection.15

mrmopar

Welcome back!

Fjellrev

Hej hej! Nice to see you around. It still blows my mind how you’re able to travel so much!

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Comments

Marzipan

Great write up! Really interesting.

Christina / BooksandTea

I agree, more talk about branding when it comes to tea!

Anna

Thanks, guys! One of my fave topics, so hugely appreciated feedback.

OMGsrsly

Kinda how I feel about TWG, Anna! We have a store here and it’s very fancy and pretentious and there’s a tea I want but there’s no way I’d spend $40+ for 50g of it. That’s just silly, especially because I feel their base teas aren’t all that fabulous. (I think I’ve had 4 now. :) ) It is a neat experience to go into the store, but whoa.

Dustin

[email protected] demented tea socialite! You did way more research than I on TWG! I took them at face value for being a much older company! I do like some of their teas, but not all of them live up to what I was hoping for. I used to work for a guy who was from Singapore and your description of the attitude towards money make his behavior make a lot more sense.

Marzipan

More interesting stuff from Wikipedia: In 2011, a lawsuit against TWG Tea was filed by tea retailer Tsit Wing International and its parent company Tsit Wing, for incorporating the abbreviation TWG in its name, which was trademarked by Tsit Wing. The latter company, which is based in Hong Kong, was founded in 1932.13

A judge handling the lawsuit noted in July 2013 that the use of the “existence of the date 1837 in TWG Tea’s sign has led people to believe that the company was established at that time”, while in actuality it was founded much later, in 2008. In justification, the firm’s spokespeople claimed that it was instead a tribute to the “year when the Chamber of Commerce was founded in Singapore”.13 The case was ruled in Tsit Wing’s favour, with damages payable yet to be decided. Shortly after the ruling, TWG Tea filed for appeal.14

On 3 December 2014, TWG Tea lost a court appeal and as a result it may have to change its name in Hong Kong. TWG Tea has room to pursue its final appeal. According to the company’s lawyer, in case the company loses the appeal again, it may use another registered logo containing the acronym “TW” instead of the currently used “TWG”, to which Tsit Wing had no objection.15

mrmopar

Welcome back!

Fjellrev

Hej hej! Nice to see you around. It still blows my mind how you’re able to travel so much!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Profile

Bio

I’m going to try all the teas.

Then I will choose a lucky few perfect specimens, and we will live happily together in my tea cupboard.

Forever.

* *

2015

This will be a year of in-betweenness and logistics. Where to put the teas. How to arrange the teas. Which teas to replenish – which ones to say goodbye to.

Still doing Project Green.
Still doing Project Jasmine.
Still doing Project Peach.

Dr. Tea is the name, I’m ahead of my game
still, steeping my leafs, still f*ck with the temps
still not loving Assam (uh-huh)
still rock my Bosch kettle with its high-pitched shriek
still got love for the greens, repping Lupicia
still the cup steams, still doing my thang
since I left, ain’t too much changed, still

(With apologies to Mr. Young.)

2014

This year, all bets are off. I am going to drink both peppermint and chamomile and possibly suffer a little. But it’s okay – it’s for science.

I’m doing Project Jasmine, Project Peach and Project Unflavoured Green.

In terms of flavoured teas, Lupicia and Mariage Frères have become my massive favourites, and I have learned that Dammann Frères/Fauchon/Hédiard and Butiki aren’t really for me.

The O Dor, Adagio and Comptoir des thés et des épices are all on this year’s I’d like to get to know you better list.

2013

Getting back into tea drinking last fall, I was all about rooibos. This past spring has been all green tea, all the time, with some white additions over the summer. Currently attempting a slow, autumnal graduation to black teas. Oolongs are always appropriate.

The constant for me, flavour wise, is the strong presence of fruity and floral notes. Vanilla is lush, as long as it’s not artificial. Peach, berries, mango. Cornflower, rose, lavender.

No peppermint.

No chamomile.

No cinnamon.

Ever.

* *

My ratings don’t reflect the ‘What does this tea do for me?’ standard, but rather my own ‘What would I do for this tea?’ scale.

100-90
My absolute favourites. Teas I would travel for – or, in any case, pay exuberant postage for, because they simply have to be in my cupboard. Generally multi-faceted teas with complex scents and flavours. Teas with personality. Tricky teas.

89-80
Teas I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again if and when I came across them. Tea purchases I would surreptitiously weave into a travel itinerary (Oh! A Lupicia store! Here?! My word!).

79-70
Teas I enjoyed, but don’t necessarily need to make any kind of effort to buy again.

69-0
Varying degrees of disinterest and contempt.

Location

Rome, Italy

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