Brooke Bond & Company was founded by Arthur Brooke, who was born at 6 George Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England, in 1845. In 1869 he opened his first tea shop at 23 Market Street, Manchester. Brooke chose the business name because it was his 'bond' to his customers to provide quality teas, hence Brooke Bond. The firm expanded into wholesale tea sales in the 1870s.
In 1903, Brooke Bond launched Red Label in British India.
Brooke Bond's most famous brand is PG Tips, launched in 1930. By 1957, Brooke Bond was probably the largest tea company in the world, with one third share of both the British and Indian tea markets.
The company merged with Liebig in 1968, becoming Brooke Bond Liebig, which was acquired by Unilever in 1984. The Brooke Bond name was significantly decreased by Unilever, however, the Brooke Bond tea brand was reintroduced on sale in 2019 in the UK after a 20 year absence.
Gold Crown Foods Ltd was licensed by Unilever to use the Brooke Bond name for the Brooke Bond 'D' and Brooke Bond Choicest brands. Today, the licence for D Tea is held by Typhoo, who used to sell it through their website – it had identical packaging to before minus the words 'Brooke Bond', although it is not currently available. It was also regularly sold across Britain in Poundland stores. The Brooke Bond brand is still used in other countries, especially in India. In Pakistan, Brooke Bond Supreme is the number-one-selling tea brand. Unilever markets it as being stronger than its Lipton Yellow Label blend.
Brands and origins
Brooke Bond Taj Mahal tea leaves are grown in estates of Upper Assam, Darjeeling and Tripura. It grows on the northern banks of Brahmaputra, which floods its banks every monsoon, creating a rich, humid soil. There is plentiful rain in the monsoon and humidity lasts through the year. The soil and weather together give Assam Tea its 'terroir' – a dark red brew, a strong malty flavor and deep body.
Brooke Bond Red Label, the Indian blend, is made in tea manufacturing units of Assam, Coochbehar, Darjeeling and some parts of Meghalaya. The manufacturing process of tea includes the stages of withering (leaving tea leaves to dry), rolling/cutting (through which complex series of chemical changes known as oxidation are initiated), drying and then grading into sizes.
Brooke Bond Taaza is made of High Quality fresh Green Tea Leaves.
Brooke Bond Supreme is imported to Pakistan, made from Kenyan tea leaves.
From 1954 until 1999, packets of Brooke Bond tea included illustrated cards, usually 50 in a series, which were collected by many children. One of the most famous illustrators of the cards was Charles Tunnicliffe, the internationally acclaimed bird painter. Most of the initial series were wildlife-based, including 'British Wild Animals', 'British Wild Flowers', 'African Wild Life', 'Asian Wild Life', and 'Tropical Birds'. From the late 1960s, they included historical subjects, such as 'British Costume', 'History of the Motor Car', and 'Famous Britons'. The last series in the 1990s concentrated on the Chimps of the TV adverts. Complete sets and albums in good condition are highly sought after collectors' items. The inclusion of these cards in packets of tea ceased in 1999. There were about 85 separate titles issued around the world: 59 series issued in the UK (1954–1999), 17 series in Canada (1959–1974; 7 of these were also issued in the US, 1960–66), 6 series in what was Rhodesia (1962–66), and 3 series in South Africa (1965–67). Many of them have since been reprinted.
Complete list of UK sets
set no / Title / year of issue / number of cards in set
- B01 British Birds 1954 / 20
- B02 Wild Flowers – Series 1 1955 / 50
- B03 Out Into Space 1956 / 50
- B04 Bird Portraits 1957 / 50
- B05 British Wild Life 1958 / 50
- B06 Wild Flowers – Series 2 1959 / 50
- B07 Freshwater Fish 1960 / 50
- B08 African Wild Life 1961 / 50
- B09 Tropical Birds 1961 / 50
- B10 Asian Wild Life 1962 / 50
- B11 British Butterflies 1963 / 50
- B12 Wildlife In Danger 1963 / 50
- B13 Wild Flowers – Series 3 1964 / 50
- B14 Butterflies of the World 1964 / 50
- B15 Wild Birds in Britain 1965 / 50
- B16 Transport Through the Ages 1966 / 50
- B17 Trees in Britain 1966 / 50
- B18 Flags & Emblems of the World 1967 / 50
- B19 British Costume 1967 / 50
- B20 History of the Motor Car 1968 / 50
- B21 Famous People 1969 / 50
- B22 The Saga of Ships 1970 / 50
- B23 The Race into Space 1971 / 50
- B24 Prehistoric Animals 1972 / 50
- B25 History of Aviation 1972 / 50
- B26 Adventurers and Explorers 1973 / 50
- B27 The Sea – Our Other World 1974 / 50
- L01 Polyfilla Modelling Cards 1974 / 10 (no album – large cards)
- L02 Zena Skinner's International Cookery 1974 / 50 (no album – large cards)
- B28 Inventors and Inventions 1975 / 50
- B29 Wonders of Wildlife 1976 / 50
- B30 Play Better Socce 1976 / 40
- B31 Police File 1977 / 40
- B32 Vanishing Wildlife 1978 / 40
- B33 Olympic Greats 1979 / 40
- B34 Woodland Wildlife 1980 / 40
- B35 Small Wonders 1981 / 40
- B36 Queen Elizabeth I – Elizabeth II 1983 / 50
- B37 Features of the World 1984 / 50
- B38 Incredible Creatures 1985 / 40 (wall chart only – no album)
- B39 30 Years of the Chimps – the Chimps Album 1986 / 12
- B40 Unexplained Mysteries of the World 1987 / 40
- B41 The Language of Tea 1988 / 12 (wall chart only – no album)
- B42 Discovering Our Coast 1989 / 50
- B43 The Magical World of Disney 1989 / 25
- B44 A Journey Downstream 1990 / 25
- B45 Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Dimension X Escapade 1991 / 12
- B46 Olympic Challenge 1992 1992 / 40
- B47 Natural Neighbours 1993 / 40
- B48 The Dinosaur Trail 1993 / 20
- B49 40 Years of cards 1994 / 48 (mail order only – not included in boxes of tea)
- B50 Creatures of Legend 1994 / 24
- B51 Going Wild 1994 / 40
- B52 The Secret Diary of Kevin Tipps 1995 / 50
- B53 PG Chimps 40th Anniversary of Television Advertising 1996 / 40
- B54 Pyramid Power 1996 / 45
- B55 The Wonderful World of Kevin Tipps 1997 / 30
- B56 International Soccer Stars 1998 / 20
- B57 Oracle Cards 1999 / 19 (no album; cards were held over a hot cup of tea, the heat revealed a 'prediction')
- - Survey Card 1999 / 1 (survey to ask if customers wanted Brooke Bond to keep issuing sets of cards or not)
- - Thank You Card 1999 / 1
- - Farewell to PG Tips 1999 / 3
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