The new version is weak and tasteless, like perfumed dishwater. It lacks substance and character and fails to refresh. It leaves me feeling totally dissatisfied and frustrated. It is no longer a pleasurable experience, it is not a refreshment one can savour any longer. Loyal Earl Grey devotees feel betrayed.
My question to Twinings is, why the heck change what is a very successful and popular recipe? The British are a nation of tea drinkers, and you tamper with with their favourite cuppa at your peril. I, for one, will no longer be buying and shall seek out other brands.
The story has made national news, was debated on Radio 4 this week and has even made CNN. Here are some of the outraged comments on Facebook, and do add your penny worth too if you also feel cheated:
Derek Ian Elder: I am listening a 'You and Yours' item on Radio 4 about the 'new' Twinings Early Gray. The company mouthpiece is a poorly-briefed PR right down to her lack of understanding of 'statistically significant' when defending how the company market tested the new mix. A tea expert has just politely, but surely, stuck in the stiletto by saying he prefers the old and putting the new down to cost-saving money. The PRs' ripost was that the difference is negligible and it's not about cost! Then why bother? New Coke anyone? And Lidl's Earl Gray is better than you may think.
Patricia Jones: The new blend of Earl Grey is not to my taste. I had a bad cold when I first drank it and not realising the product had been tampered with thought it was my taste buds. Cold has now gone, wish this blend would disappear. Hope this is an official petition that Twining will see and take action on. They state on their blog that sales of the new blend are good. That's because when we shop, we just pick up the box of tea that we have used for years, I certainly don't have time to read all the blurb on the boxes. They will find a difference next time, with so many people disliking the new blend. It's not Earl Grey, so why call it that.
Sue Fisher: The new stuff is vile, and I don't care if Twinings still makes the 'original' in its export version. I don't want to buy tea bags in stupid envelopes with stupid strings on them at twice the price in the US. I want to fill my suitcase with boxes of the original when I'm back in the UK. Do the right thing Twinings!
Monique Pritchard: I emailed twinings to complain about 4 months ago on their change to dishwater from my beloved original earl grey. They were very apologetic and gave me the usual its been tested in the market its what our customers want etc.....apparently not according the blog on their web site and the current media. However they were kind enough to send me a parcel containing 200 teabags of original flavour 09 gold taste and a box of the Orange blossom earl grey which I have to say is really enjoyable, however becomes an indulgent cuppa at only 25 bags per box a bit like the earl grey classic which Twinings are saying that they have brought back the old taste in this box. In my opinion classic earl grey (boxed as 25 bags) does not taste the same as the black box of 09 gold taste(boxed as 50 or 100) and the classic earl grey box has always been available me thinks? They did send me a box of this in addition to the rest in my parcel.
Sophia Baba: Whomever made a final decision on this disasterous shame and devastating negative publicity to a company which cling onto its tradition should be held accountable for loss of trust among its loyal patrons across the globe. If this were in Japan, such a person would have resigned (or been forced to resign, whichever comes first) from the position long ago! Lucky that Twinings was based in UK.
Adam Pracht: Got this back from Twinings USA: "Thank you for contacting us, while Twinings is an international organization, every Twinings blend is customized based on the local markets due to the difference in demographics, the water used, and the difference in consumer taste pallet. While these changes are taking effect in the UK it has no impact on our blend sold here in the US or Canada." So good news for the states, but you still have my backing....
Rob Jennings: I used to work for Twinings in logistics. I suspect what has happened here is the "old" Earl Grey is manufactured in that packaging for markets outside the UK. I imagine they're trying to source some stock (the packaged product not the raw tea) from one of their international distributors/agents, in this case Russia. It's definitely not produced in Russia.
Twinings, beware - this is more than a storm in a teacup!