Tetley is a beverage manufacturer founded in 1837 in Yorkshire, England. It is the largest tea company in the United Kingdom and Canada, and the second largest in the United States by volume. Tetley's manufacturing and distribution business operates in forty countries, selling over sixty branded tea bags.
Since 2000, Tetley is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Global Beverages (formerly Tata Tea), headquartered in Kolkata, making it the second-largest manufacturer of teas in the world, after Unilever
In 1822, brothers Joseph and Edward Tetley sold salt from a pack horse in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. They started to sell tea and were so successful they set up as "Joseph Tetley & Co." tea merchants in 1837. Relocating to London in 1856, they set up as "Joseph Tetley & Company, Wholesale Tea Dealers".
In 1952, in an early example of cross promotion, Petula Clark's single "Anytime Is Tea Time Now" was used to advertise Tetley on Radio Luxembourg. Tetley was the first company to sell tea in tea-bags in the United Kingdom in 1953. In 1989, following extensive consumer tests establishing Britons' preferences, Tetley launched the round tea bag.
The Tetley Group was created in July 1995, as a result of a buy in management buy out, when a group of investors bought the worldwide beverage business from Allied Domecq. The Tetley Group was bought by India's Tata Group in February 2000, for £271 million.
It was one of the largest overseas acquisitions by an Indian company at that time. Tata Group is one of India's largest business conglomerates, comprising more than one hundred companies, including Tata Global Beverages. The acquisition has helped Tata's business ambitions to hold a global tea company.
As India reduces import duties on tea, Tata Global Beverages has offset its reduced share of the domestic market by gains in Europe and North America. In April 2014, Columbia Law School and The Guardian reported that some of Tetley's tea is harvested by workers who do not receive the minimum wage in India.
In a statement placed on its website, Tetley's parent company, Tata Global Beverages, announced it had "appointed legal advisors to verify compliances by independent review. The legal advisors will also appoint and commission an independent third party Solidaridad to make an assessment into the living and working conditions of the workers at the APPL plantations (Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited [sic])."
The company has claimed that APPL is not used in Tetley tea internationally, and that it has supplied only one small shipment of Assam tea for use in Tetley in India in the last three years. In October 2014, UNICEF announced that they are working with tea companies and with the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) to tackle child exploitation in Indian tea communities. The three year program is funded by a number of advocacy groups, Tata Global Beverages, and Tesco.