PG Tips

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PG Tips
PG Tips
Product type Tea
Owner Unilever
Country Greater Manchester, England, UK
Introduced 1930
Previous owners Brooke Bond

PG Tips is a brand of tea in the United Kingdom, manufactured by Unilever UK.

Brand name[edit]

In the 1930s, Brooke Bond launched PG Tips in the UK tea market under the name Pre-Gest-Tee. The name implied that it could be drunk prior to eating food, as a digestive aid. Grocers and salesmen abbreviated it to PG.[1]

After the Second World War, labelling regulations ruled out describing tea as aiding digestion—a property that had been attributed to tea—and by 1950/1 the PG name was adopted. The company added "Tips" referring to the fact that only the tips (the top two leaves and bud) of the tea plants are used in the blend.[2]


The Brooke Bond name has now been dropped from all packaging, and the product is now known as PG Tips. PG Tips is available as loose tea, tea bags, and in vending formats. A "Special Blend" tea, which is the same as the tea blended for the brand's 75th anniversary, is available in tea bag form only. The tea used in PG Tips is imported in bulk as single estate teas from around the world and blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters to make blend 777, which can contain between 12 and 35 single estate teas at any one time (depending on season, etc.) at the Trafford Park factory in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester.

PG Tags, tea bags with a string, were launched in 1985, and tetrahedron-shaped tea bags in 1996 (branded as Pyramid Bags). The tetrahedral bag was designed to help the tea leaves move more freely, as loose tea moves in a teapot, and supposedly create a better infusion. One 2011 version of the product packaging makes the claim: "The PG Tips pyramid tea bag gives the tea leaves 50% more room to move around than a flat conventional tea bag. So the tea bag works more like a miniature tea pot. This allows for all the freshness to be released for the best tasting cup of PG."[3] During the T-Birds era, the tetrahedral tea bags were remade with a "freeflow" material, to allow further infusion of the tea.

In Scotland, Unilever sells a specially developed blend of PG called Scottish Blend. Scottish Blend is a version of PG Tips marketed in Scotland as being specially blended to optimise taste in the soft waters of Scotland.[4][5]

PG tips, Scottish Blend and Lyons teas are exported by Unilever International, based in Leatherhead, UK and Singapore, through a worldwide network of food distributors. Unilever North America manage PG Tips in the USA since 2011. In Ireland, Unilever sells tea under the Lyons brand.

As of 2011, a "Special Moments" range was released, initially as the "New Ones". These teas were made by pressing the leaves at different stages.

In 2014, Unilever have introduced a new range of fruit, herbal and green teas under the PG Tips brand.


Unlike the blended teas many companies were producing, Brooke’s teas were pure, high-quality teas from India and China. Brooke realized the importance of advertising early on, introducing the slogan, "Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse."[6]

The Tipps family[edit]

In 1956 PG Tips began using anthropomorphic chimpanzees in their TV advertisements. These were dressed in human clothes and were known as the 'Tipps family'. Their voices were often provided by celebrities, such as Peter Sellers and Bob Monkhouse. By 1958 PG Tips had risen from fourth to first place in the British tea market.[7] The chimpanzees were from Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire.

These advertisements were stopped in the 1970s after complaints by animal rights organisations. However sales dropped and the chimps were bought back 18 months later. The last 'Tipps family' advert was broadcast in 2002.[8] The PG Tips chimps spawned a spin-off in memorabilia, including trading cards and figurines.

The T-Birds[edit]

The 'Tipps family' were replaced in 2002 with a house-sharing group of claymation birds called the T-Birds (which consisted of Tom the owl, Maggie the pigeon, Pete the starling and Holly the blue tit), animated by Aardman, the company behind Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. In Ireland these commercials were still airing in late 2006, though advertising Lyons Tea (another Unilever brand). This led to PG Tips becoming a major partner with Wallace and Gromit's first film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, launched in October 2005. PG offered "Gromit" mugs on pack in the supermarket. According to The Grocer magazine, Unilever reported that during this "Gromit" mug promotion, PG Tips sales increased 600 percent. Wallace and Gromit also appeared in an advert with Lady Tottington (another character from the film) around the same time.

PG Tips also produced a long-running series of trade cards as give-aways. These cards ceased production in 1999 after a survey of customers showed that they were not contributing to developing the business.[citation needed]

In 2005, PG Tips celebrated its 75th anniversary with special packs, including a limited edition Golden pack and a one-off Diamond tea bag. The Diamond tea bag cost £7,500 and was made by Boodles jewelers and used Makaibari Silver Tips (Imperial).


In 2007, PG Tips reunited Johnny Vegas as Al and the ITV Digital Monkey character puppeteered by Nigel Plaskitt and Susan Beattie, voiced by Ben Miller and made by Paul Jomain, following a holiday TV special about bad decisions (ITV Digital's launch) where they featured briefly. ITV Digital was placed into administration on 27 March 2002, after the Football League refused to accept a £130m pay cut in its £315m deal with the ITV Sport Channel. Most subscription channels ceased broadcasting on ITV Digital on 1 May 2002. The collapse on 30 June 2002 caused financial difficulties for lower-division football clubs who had budgeted for large incomes from the television contract. The Football League sued ITV Digital's parent companies, Carlton and Granada, claiming that the firms had breached their contract in failing to deliver the guaranteed income. And so, by the end of June 2002, the service ceased. The League lost the case, with the judge ruling that it had "failed to extract sufficient written guarantees". The League then filed a negligence claim against its lawyers for failing to press for a written guarantee at the time of the deal with ITV Digital. This time it was awarded a paltry £4 in damages of the £150m it was seeking.[9]

A consortium made up of the BBC, BSkyB and Crown Castle International was granted ITV Digital's old broadcasting licence, and launched the Freeview service on 30 October 2002, offering 30 free-to-air TV channels and 20 free-to-air radio channels including several interactive channels such as BBCi (later rebranded as the BBC Red Button) and the now-defunct Teletext, but no subscription or premium services. Those followed on 31 March 2004 when Top Up TV began broadcasting 11 pay TV channels in timeshared broadcast slots.

During 2002, ITV Digital's liquidators started to ask customers to return their set top boxes or pay a £39.99 fee. Had this been successful it could have threatened to undermine the fledgling Freeview service, since at the time most digital terrestrial receivers were former ONdigital and ITV Digital units. Carlton and Granada stepped in and paid £2.8m to have the boxes stay with their customers, because at the time the ITV companies received a discount on their broadcasting licence payments based on the number of homes they had converted to digital television.

Following the administration in 2002, the three multiplexes that were run by ITV Digital remained blank until a week or so before Freeview's launch.

The Monkey character pointedly explains he's not a chimpanzee, he's a monkey, a nod to PG Tips' chimpanzee family.

One of the adverts was a spoof of the "deli scene" from the movie When Harry Met Sally; in the advert Monkey describes the taste of PG Tips by saying "Oh Yes" repeatedly like in the movie, finishing with a woman at a table nearby asking the waiter "I'll have whatever he's having". The ad ends with the tagline "How would you describe the taste?". It was first shown on 3 February 2010.[10]

Another advert, promoting the naturally occurring theanine in PG Tips, featured Monkey and Al playing the characters of Captain Mainwaring and Private Pike from the popular sitcom Dad's Army.

When PG Tips released the "Special Moments" range (initially "The New Ones"), another advert was released to advertise the "Fresh" one. It featured Monkey and Al out rambling. Monkey says to Al that they need a cup of the "Fresh" one. Al takes so long to decide how the tea tastes that before he can come to a conclusion, Monkey has been swept away by an eagle. This advert was later modified showing Monkey being dropped off in the eagle's nest with the four flavours of the Special Moments range, as well as two eagle chicks next to him. After the US federal decision in support of same-sex marriage in 2015, PG Tips depicted its Monkey character under the rainbow flag in a message of support for the LGBT community.

In 2015, as part of a rebrand, adverts now feature Monkey observing absurd things and deciding to "Keep it tea."

A Tale of Two Continents[edit]

A Tale of Two Continents
Directed by "Monkey"
Release date
21 March 2008 (2008-03-21) (cinema)
Running time
9 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

A short film entitled A Tale of Two Continents was released in March 2008.[11] It is an adventure film parody, starring Monkey "wanting to change the world one tea at a time". It was shown in cinemas from 21 March 2008 until 10 April, before the showings of family films such as The Spiderwick Chronicles and Horton Hears a Who!. It was also given free in special limited edition versions of PG Tips in early 2008 as an EcoDisc, a type of DVD that is thinner and more flexible due to it being made of a single layer of polycarbonate, instead of two layers. The limited edition package also featured a teatowel of the EcoDisc cover, described as the "official merchandise" of the film.

PG Tips and sustainability[edit]

In May 2007, Unilever became the first company to commit to sourcing all its tea in a sustainable manner.[12][13][14] To that end, the company asked the Rainforest Alliance, an international environmental NGO to start certifying tea estates in East Africa.[15][16] Since April 2012 all of the tea used in PG Tips has been Rainforest Alliance certified.[17]

In 2011 the maker of PG Tips stated it is to stop testing its teas on animals.[18]

See also[edit]

  • Tetley, PG Tips' main competitor
  • Lipton, another brand of tea also owned/made by the same company (Unilever) as PG tips.
  • Typhoo, UK's third leading brand.


  • "Keep it tea" (Monkey)
  • "How would you describe the taste?" (Al and Monkey)
  • "Do your bit, put the kettle on" (Al and Monkey)
  • "We All Need a PG Moment" (used during the T-Birds era)
  • "There's no other tea to beat PG" (later chimp ads), followed by "It's the taste!" spoken by a chimp
  • "Dad, do you know the piano's on my foot?" MR SHIFTER: You hum it son, I'll play it!
  • "Avez-vous un cuppa?" (Tour De France)
  • "It's the Tea you can really Taste" (Earlier chimp ads)


  1. ^ "PG Tips: A Manchester brew". BBC. March 1, 2005. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ "History of PG Tips". English Tea Store. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ "PG Tips Tea, Popular Brands". Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  4. ^ Praveen Reddy (27 Aug 2014). Tea. Budynan. p. 40. 
  5. ^ "Scottish Blend Tea". Tea Dog. 
  6. ^ "PG Tips History". 
  7. ^ "Inside Story: The PG Tips ads". London: The Independent. 17 March 2008. 
  8. ^ Leonard, Tom (12 Jan 2002). "After 45 years the PG Tips chimps retire". London: The Telegraph. 
  9. ^ "Football League loses damages bid". BBC News. 23 June 2006. 
  10. ^ Sweney, Mark (1 February 2010). "PG Tips spoofs When Harry Met Sally in latest Monkey ad". London: 
  11. ^ Sweney, Mark (4 March 2008). "Advertising (media),Media,UK news". The Guardian. London. 
  12. ^ Mortished, Carl (May 25, 2007). "Unilever seeks approval of its tea's green credentials". The Times. London. 
  13. ^ Button, Martin (August 12, 2009). "Unilever recently announced plans to source our entire tea supply sustainably". News Vendor – The Blog of UK Vending Ltd. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Unilever commits to sourcing all its tea from sustainable ethical sources" (Press release). Unilever PLC. 2007-05-25. 
  15. ^ "Unilever commits to sourcing all its tea from sustainable ethical sources" (Press release). Unilever.  (Archived June 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.)
  16. ^ "Time to brew up a sustainable cuppa". The Independent. London. 5 December 2007. 
  17. ^ "PG Tips tea - sustainable tea certified by the Rainforest Alliance". Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  18. ^ Foley, Stephen (3 February 2011). The Independent. London  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]