US Customs Stole Our Tea!

We’re not pleased American citizens at this particular moment.

Let me give a little backstory here – as devoted Anglophiles, my wife and I love to take tea. We stocked up last time we were in Britain (last November) but we were running near the end of our Twinnings Earl Grey supply a couple weeks ago. While you can buy Twinnings in most American grocery stores, it’s simply not the same. It must be processed differently or made somewhere else – it certainly doesn’t taste like the Twinnings you buy in England.

Since supplies were running low – we asked one of our friends in England to send us some tea with our Monthly British newspaper shipment (you can’t buy British newspapers in the US anymore – at least in Chicag0) and she was happy to oblige. So, as we waited for the newspapers to come, we finally ran out of tea – it began to get ugly in the Thomas household!

I’m used to waiting for the papers – it often takes about a week for them to get here from the UK. But after a week they still hadn’t shown up. When they finally showed up another week later, the papers arrived, but the tea hadn’t. Puzzled, we examined the packaging and it had been opened by US Customs!

US Customs took our Tea! And we can’t figure out why. Generally they allow food from the UK in as long as it’s sealed in packaging, which the tea was. How did they even know it was in there?!?!? They didn’t even leave a note of explanation, just ripped open our package and left it at that.

Ridiculous. We’ve had trouble before bringing UK food into the US but this is just absrud – it’s TEA!!!! Hardly something that will bring a food born contagion apocalypse on the USA.

Oh well. I just feel bad for our friend who went to the trouble to send it to us. Thankfully, we found a source for UK Twinning Tea in the USA- the official Twinnings store. Check it out here.

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatarJohn Brooks says

    Too bad about your tea. Did customs dress up as native Americans and turf it into Boston harbour? :)

  2. avatarKathryn Smith says

    I’m glad you were able to get your tea in the US. I have the same problem with Devon Cream. I love the English Double Devon Cream, although would love to have it fresh from the UK. I finally found a couple places that sell it so I order it online now. True it’s not as good as the fresh cream, but I’ve been very pleased with the places I buy from. or

  3. avatarLisa says

    Not cool, I know they have scanners that highlight plant materials so they can spot drugs, so I guess thats how they knew it was in there. Still, I don’t see how the tea violates any customs regulations. I’ve brought tea over several times, including the loose stuff I got at Harrod’s and never had any problems at Customs. Its pretty much just any kind of dairy or fruit that they have a problem with.

  4. avatarWendymm says

    I am surprised that you cannot find Twinnings in the Chicago area. I live in Valparaiso, Indiana; all three of our major groceries stores as well as Target carry least the best sellers…of Twinnings. Looking at their site, they have apparently discontinued my favorite.

    • avatar says

      Small world! I live in Valparaiso too! Yes, you can buy Twinnings in the Grocery store, but it’s just not the same as what you get in England. It’s tastes different and not in a better way.

  5. avatarPam Cooke says

    For the record, it’s Twinings Tea (not Twinnings) & just about all supermarkets in Florida sell it (Publix/Winn Dixie/Food Lion/Whole Foods etc.) but can’t speak for other States. I shipped myself some chocolate bars from the U.K. to U.S.A. (New York City) some years ago & Customs opened the package, stole all the chocolate but left all misc. non-food items inside. I believe it’s just outright thievery & dishonesty, not regulations that is the root of this problem……

  6. avatarTom Wright says

    Just a little background info if you didn’t already know. Tea in Britain most commonly comes in tea bags, which were an American invention. Brits used to drink loose leaf.

    • avatarPolly says

      The main difference between loose leaf tea and tea bag is tea leaves contain essential oils, which account for the flavour.. When tea leaves are broken up, those oils evaporate which can affect the taste. Typical tea bags are filled with the tiniest pieces of broken leaves, called fannings, albeit certainly more convenient in everyday use.

      Back some 300/400 years ago, a person could tell what side of the tracks you were from merely by watching how you served a cup of tea.
      Milk last = Porcelain, which is sensitive to heat = Very expensive tea service
      Milk first = Bone china, which is durable to heat =Cheaper tea service
      Thankfully someone invented mugs..

      • avatarPolly says

        Oops, sorry got it the wrong way round….
        Milk first = Porcelain, which is sensitive to heat = Very expensive tea service
        Milk last = Bone china, which is durable to heat =Cheaper tea service

        Anyone fancy a brew?