When it comes to annual tea consumption the Irish are right near the top of the heap. They are ranked third on the list of the world’s top tea drinkers, downing a rather impressive amount of tea that averages more than seven pounds a year per person.
Lyons Tea is one of the companies that’s been instrumental in helping the Irish quench their thirst for tea. In their version of the Irish love for tea, as noted at their Web site, an estimated three million citizens out of a total population of four million drink tea, slurping down a grand total of about five cups per day.
So now that we’ve established that the Irish like tea, a little more about Lyons Tea, who have been doing their thing for over a century. Like so many businesses, Lyons got their start in a small way, with a modest firm that began operating in Dublin in 1902. Business flourished and over a half century later, in 1963, the company opened what was considered at the time to be a state-of-the-art processing factory. By the end of the Seventies they claimed to have captured a 65 percent share of the Irish tea market.
Lyons Tea also lays claim to a few significant innovations in the tea field. In the late Seventies they came up with the first round tea bag. These ruled the roost for about a quarter of a century, until 2004. It was then that the company made the move to another forward thinking tea innovation – they claim to be the first tea merchants in Ireland to have made use of the pyramid-shaped tea bag. In addition to green and decaf varieties, Lyons currently offers the Original Blend, a richer Gold Blend, the Gold Blend Reserve, which they say is their richest and smoothest. Then there’s the Kenya Blend, “a luxury blend for the tea connoisseur.”
Like a number of other popular tea merchants in the United Kingdom, Lyons realized the value of effective advertising early on. In 2004, they created their own version of the tea-shilling animated creatures that seem so popular on that side of the Atlantic, specifically Maggie, Niamh, Pete and Tom, who are better known as the Lyons Tea birds. As an American I can’t claim to have ever heard the Lyons Tea jingle, but as the company notes, “Anyone on the island of Ireland over the last few decades knows the jingle ‘Extra quality, Extra flavour, Lyons the Quality Tea’ unless you were hiding under a rock.”
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