Lipton, Tea and the Shamrock….

Posted by on February 4, 2010

You know, I’ll be the first to admit—I don’t know much about yachts!  However, I am a student of history, so when I came across some information on a fellow named Lipton, I began to learn more about them…as well as a few other things!

Thomas Lipton (LOC)


The driving force behind what we know as “Lipton tea”, Thomas Lipton has seemingly disappeared into the mists of time.  Not many of us today would be aware that he immigrated to the United States, but actually went back to his native country to make his fortune in the grocery and tea trades.  Says Lipton on starting business in the old world:

“…I made money from the start.  I put in practice what I had seen abroad,–such as displaying goods attractively in windows keeping the place as neat as a pin and waiting personally on my customers.  Every dollar that I earned I saved,–not that I really loved money myself.  That was not my inspiration,–it was my father and mother.” (2)

His company became well known and his approach to marketing his products was that of appealing to the everyday consumer.  He began buying land in what was then known as Ceylon but you know today as Sri Lanka.  His tea lands soon grew and expanded to cocoa and other resources:


However, beyond the tea, one of the most interesting aspects of his life was his continued interest in and competiting in the goal of winning the America’s Cup with a series of yachts all called Shamrock!  He tried for many years to win this race.  It was said of Lipton:

“Of course he spends a barrel of money jollying our fellows about the challenge cup but he winks the other eye for we are buying his brand of tea and paying him regulation rates per.  It is nice though to deal with a real good fellow and Sir Thomas can raise the rate every time he gets beat as a sailor and nobody will ever make a kick.  In fact if he wants to increase his trade and advertise his tea right along, the thing to do is to keep on letting the Yankees win.”


So it’s a fascinating story, one of immigration and return, one of small means soon expanding and enlarging to become a well known figure of history.  We’ve only been able to touch on just a part of this extraordinary person’s life, so take a look at the links below for more information!

Talk to you soon!



Lipton Tea (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Thomas Lipton

Wikipedia: Lipton (brand-name)

Cosmopolitan Magazine, pg. 673

Little Visits With Great Americans, pg 108. (epub download!)

The Wireless Age (Lipton on Technology!)


(1) LOC, Prints & Photographs Division-Bain News Service

(2) Improvement Era (Google Books)

(3) Internet Archive

(4) The Musings of Uncle Silas (Humorist) Google Books

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