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The History of Lipton® Tea

Growing up in a tenement building in Glasgow, there was nothing to suggest that Sir Thomas Lipton would go on to revolutionize the future of tea. Yet before long, his publicity stunts and wacky marketing campaigns cemented his place in the history of tea. 

The Beginning of Lipton® Tea History 

In 1890, Sir Thomas set out to buy his first tea plantations. He purchased 5,500 acres of the Dambatenne Tea Plantation in Ceylon’s high country then re-organized the plantations, making production more efficient. 

Sir Thomas Lipton’s Marketing Genius

Thomas Lipton was a big fan of promotional stunts. When his first 20,000 tea chests arrived in Glasgow he put on a party, complete with a brass band and bagpipe parade.

When the first Lipton® grocery store opened in Glasgow 1871, he imported the world’s largest cheese and even issued his own Lipton® currency.

By the time he shipped his first batch of tea, Thomas Lipton was a millionaire.

Lowering the Cost of Tea 

In 1893 Sir Thomas Lipton officially established the Thomas J Lipton Co.®, a tea packaging company based in Hoboken, New Jersey . He felt that tea should be a drink for everyone, not just the wealthy , so he strived to make packaging and shipping less expensive.

Instead of arriving in crates, Sir Thomas packaged his loose tea in multiple weight options. The tea was also standardized, so Lipton® customers knew exactly what to expect. 

The History of Tea Bags

Tea bags were an accidental creation by American merchant Thomas Sullivan. When sending samples of tea to his customers, he would place them in small silk bags. His customers presumed the whole bag should be steeped in water, and so the tea bag was born. 

Thomas Lipton was always forward thinking, and knew how important tea bags would be to his product. Lipton® was also the first tea brand to print brewing instructions on tea bag tags. 

Lipton® Today and the Rainforest Alliance

Lipton® continues to innovate. In the US, 100% of our leaf tea is Rainforest Alliance Certified™. By supporting smallholder farmers, we can ensure sustainability from crop to cup

We’re also innovating when it comes to tea flavours. With one of the most varied tea ranges available, from fruity iced tea to instant tea, we celebrate Sir Thomas’s legacy every day. 

Get Creative with Tea

Get Creative with Tea