So many names are associated with tea, from Shen Nong to Catherine of Braganza, to Sen Rikyu—but perhaps the best known is that of Sir Thomas J. Lipton.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1850 to a family of grocers, Lipton set off for America when he was fifteen years-old. There he worked in a New York department store food section and fell in love with American advertising and merchandising.
Returning to Glasgow in 1871, Lipton opened a small grocery store of his own. Nine years later, he owned a chain of twenty general stores. In a stroke of good fortune, he went to Ceylon in 1890 during a time when disease had decimated the coffee plantations and land was inexpensive.
Lipton bought four plantations and quickly converted them to tea production, making him a wealthy man in a very short time. Selling his tea in colored bags, imprinted with his slogan, “Direct from the tea garden to the teapot,” soon made the name “Lipton” known worldwide.
Queen Victoria knighted Lipton in 1898, and he received many other honors for his business acumen and philanthropy until his death in 1931.