Lyons Tea History

First formed in the late 19th century, J. Lyons & Co. has become one of the leading food manufacturing companies worldwide, expanding from a modest food supplier to the first food empire recognized as the largest in Europe. With the passage of time Lyons teas has become a household name, while the Joe Lyons Corner Houses passed into history. Unique and innovative, Lyons introduced a wonderful blend of spectacle and style in pursuing its aim to combine top quality with value for money.

The history of J. Lyons & Co. can be traced back to 1894, when the first Lyons teashop opened at Piccadilly. Since then some 250 gold and white fronted Lyons teashops were established, occupying prominent positions in a number of high streets of London, as well as other cities and suburban towns of Britain. Beverage and food prices were identical in all teashops, regardless of locality, and customers' complaint was possibly the most serious matter.

Such considerable attention to details was the secret of the company's success, since the name of Lyons has been always associated with a standard of high quality at a reasonable price. Tea from Lyons was regarded as the best ever available, while the blend used has never been made available to the public.

In addition to catering a number of other activities, Lyons was engaged in the Buckingham Palace Garden Parties, the Chelsea Flower shows, catering events at Windsor Castle and Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships among others. In the late 1930s the company engaged so many musicians that the Orchestral Department was formed to manage them.

By the 1930s the Lyons teashops have expanded significantly, particularly after the company's acquisition of several companies engaged in tea productions. During this period the new tea factory at Greenford has been introduced online, which has resulted in transference of all production of coffee, tea and cocoa. The majority of leaf tea used by Lyons in their blending processes was supplied from the auction rooms in Mincing Lane, while others were obtained from agents in Colombo and Calcutta. In 1923 the company invested in one of Africa's tea areas, known today as Malawi.

After a few months of negotiations Lyons became the owner of a Tea Plantation, frequently referred to as Tea Garden. A plantation manager from Sri Lanka was employed to take control of all local matters. However, this tea estate didn't satisfy all the company's needs, since it was extremely small. Blends were made from more than one locality, and Lujeri tea was the single ingredient in the recipe. Nevertheless, this plantation gave the company control over its supplies.

Composed initially of nearly half dozen staff, the Lyons Tea Department has managed to become one of the most profitable company's departments. A number of tea blends were named after their colors, including Green Label, Yellow Label, Red Label and White Label. The most prestigious label, Maison Lyons was available exclusively in food halls of the Corner Lyons Teashops. In order to increase its market share in the north of the country, Lyons acquired the old-established tea company of Horniman & Sons, which had a significant export business.

At the same time and for the same purpose Black and Green of Manchester was acquired. The purchase of the Tetley Tea business made Lyons one of Britain's most important tea blenders, who dominated the tea market when it began to develop in 1946. In addition to tea and coffee products, Lyons was engaged in production of liquid coffee concentrate, custard powder, tomato sauce, chocolate and other grocery products.

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