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PG Tips History

"Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse."
      -Brooke, Bond & Co. slogan by Arthur Brooke

Brooke, Bond & Co.

Arthur Brooke, founder of Brooke, Bond and Company, opened his first shop in Manchester in 1869 selling tea, coffee and sugar. Unlike the blended teas many companies were producing, Arthur’s teas were pure, high-quality teas from India and China. Arthur realized the importance of advertising early on, introducing the slogan, "Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse."

Brooke, Bond and Co. entered the wholesale tea market in the 1870s, during a severe trade depression in Britain. Sales increased dramatically. Arthur retired in 1904, leaving the business to his sons. The company continued to prosper, and Arthur left a large sum of money to his family when he died in 1918.

In the 1930s, PG Tips, originally known as "Digestive" and later as "Pre-Gestee," was created and marketed as a digestive tea. The name "Pre-Gestee" was to insinuate that the tea could be consumed before food was digested. Salesmen and grocers shortened the name to PG, and Tips was added, referring to the tips of the buds used in the blend.

Monkey Business

Following Arthur Brooke’s lead, PG Tips launched a solid advertising campaign involving chimpanzees in 1956. These TV commercials were among the first ever aired and proved to be very well-liked by the public. The chimps, who acted out humorous skits, had the voices of personalities like Peter Sellers, Bruce Forsyth, Kenneth Williams and Bob Monkhouse. The PG Tips chimps are the longest running characters in British TV advertising. They were retired in 2002.

PG Tips’ new advertising campaign features four plasticine animated birds known as T-birds. They were created by Aardman, the Academy Award winning company that created Wallace & Gromit. These birds have a no-nonsense attitude, making them great icons for PG Tips.

In the coming years, PG Tips introduced bagged teas, which would later sell out the loose leaf varieties. In 1996 PG Tips invented the pyramid tea bag after experimenting with other shapes like spheres, cylinders and top hats. The pyramid shaped bag acted as a miniature teapot, expanding enough to give the tea leaves up to 50% more room to move and infuse. The extra room enhanced the flavor of the tea. Seven years later PG Tips developed a new, more absorbent material to use for tea bags. The new Freeflow tea bags used webbed fibers, allowing water to quickly reach the tea leaves and decreasing the brewing time dramatically. PG Tips continued to innovate and improve its products, adding a decaffeinated tea to its line in 2004.

PG Tips recently celebrated 75 years of continued success. For this event the company produced the most expensive tea bag ever made. The tea bag, which was commissioned by Boodles jewelers, was covered in 280 diamonds. It was raffled off to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Ethical Tea

PG Tips holds high ethical standards in the growing, harvesting and production of its tea. It is the first leading tea company to make a commitment to only buy teas from ethical and sustainable sources. PG Tips works with Rainforest Alliance, which aims to transform land use practices to conserve biodiversity. All PG Tips teas meet the standards of this international environmental organization. By 2010 the company hopes to have all of its tea bags certified. Unilever, now the owner of PG Tips, is a founding member of the Ethical Tea Partnership. The ETP, an alliance of tea packing companies, believes in monitoring the conditions of tea production and making improvements. It focuses on the relevant laws including wage, health, safety, housing, education, etc.

Of the 150 million cups of tea consumers drink each day, 35 million are PG Tips. It is one of the most popular tea brands in the UK, and it is enjoyed around the globe. PG Tips is a brand you can trust.

Interesting Facts

  • Although Arthur Brooke chose the name Brooke, Bond & Co. for his business, there never was a Mr. Bond.
  • In the 1940s women used PG Tips to stain their legs since nylon stockings were scarce.
  • Referring to the tea ration during WWII, Winston Churchill said, "Tea is more important than bullets."
  • During the 1970s some people used PG Tips in tie-dying because it was eco-friendly and green.
  • PG Tips contains fluoride, which is good for teeth, has half the caffeine of a cup of fresh coffee, and is virtually fat free.
  • The PG Tips chimps are listed as the longest running advertising campaign ever run in the Guinness Book of World Records.

 

Visit our Tea Blog for another look into the History of PG Tips

References

PG tips.

"PG Tips: A Manchester Brew" bbc.co.uk 2005.

"A Tribute to Aruther Brooke 1845-1918, Founder of Brooke Bond and Co." Tameside.gov.uk 2007.

PG Tips Unilever.