Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Tiger Tea bus

1900 advertisement, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
There's no other tea like the Tiger,
It's no matter what they say,
And if you want a real good sort
Then have the Blendid [sic] Tiger Tea.

Then there's no tea like the Tiger,
Not withstanding all their puff,
They try to imitate its qualities
But they haven't got the stuff.

Then drink no Blend but the Tiger,
For its merits are supreme,
The other comparisons are just similar,
As skim milk is to cream.
Ashburton Guardian, 6 April 1894

Tiger Tea turned up in this country as an imported blend around 1888, and became the brand produced by Rattray & Sons, Dunedin. By the 1890s, the brand was well-established in the South Island.

Tuapeka Times, 31 January 1903

Otago Daily Times, 29 February 1912

Evening Post, 4 December 1945

At the Toitu Otago Setters Museum in Dunedin, they have a wonderful Tiger Tea livery electric trolley bus.

Gorgeous, this. Not only with the extremely cool Tiger Tea branding all over it ...

... but also a chance to sit inside the bus, on the original hard seats (oh, how it put me back to being a kiddy catching buses like this here in Auckland with my mum!) where you can watch a video screen placed up front, showing what it was like to catch that bus in the mid 1970s along one of the Dunedin bus routes, along with conversations based on a single newspaper of the day. A highlight of an excellent museum.


  1. I don't believe we had Tiger Tea here, but the ads and the trolley bus rather make me wish he do. I guess it no longer available.

    1. On a quick look, it seems someone tried selling "Tiger blend" tea in Melbourne in the late 1880s-c.1892, but got hauled up in court in the latter year on trademark breach charges. Haven't the head at the moment to read the whole case and the outcome, but references in Trove after that are rare.

    2. Tiger Tea available from New World (Bishopdale Christchurch) and is comparable in price to other teas. It comes as far as I know only in 100 boxes and is made by bell tea although it doesn't appear on their web site.
      may be available at NSW parent company Countdown but don't know

  2. That's a bit of a worry, then. I found a partly-used Tiger Tea packet in my pantry cupboard today ...

  3. It was still on sale last year here in Dunedin, but I haven't looked recently. Nice tea - I'm not sure if it was the same as regular Bell or not.

  4. I've sent you a pic via Facebook - I did see their page for Tiger (maybe last year) before it was taken down.

  5. I am so glad I found this blog. I am the biggest Tiger Tea fan, ever! Nothing compares. So when I went to Southland two months ago I brought a huge box-load back to the Waikato (where you cannot buy it!).
    ALSO, I was perusing through a store in Raglan and found a whole bunch of Tiger Tea canisters - I couldn't believe my luck. I tried to explain to the shop owner that they were Tiger Tea canisters, and she thought I was speaking a whole different language saying, 'no, they're made in NZ'. Rest assured, I finally got my message across (how can you think Tiger Tea is from India!?) and bought two (as they were selling at $30 a pop!). I have enjoyed Tiger Tea everywhere I travel. From Cape Reinga to the Bluff and in Western Australia: Broome, Carnarvon, Perth, Esperance and everywhere in between! I even have the pics to prove it! If Bell Tea phase it out, I will not be a happy lass!

  6. Just enjoying a cup right now....purchased from New World St martins Christchurch. I was a bit dubious since i hadn't had a cup since the 70's and didn't think it would rate against Twinings Irish Breakfast or Dilmah. BUT I am most impressed ...deleicious!! :-)

  7. An article in the "Otago Witness" newspaper dated 11 June 1891 states J Rattray & son of Dunedin, tea blenders, introduced the blend Tiger last year (ie 1890)

  8. I used to get this tea but have been told you can't anymore? Like all things I love we must do away with it.

  9. I liced in Dunedin in 2004/5 and loved Tiger tea. I even took a couple of boxes back to the UK, along with an old plastic Tiger tea caddy, found in a second hand shop. Is Tiger tea discontinued now? Very sad if it is. Great taste and brilliant branding.

  10. I buy only Tiger tea, love it. Available here in South Canterbury, at Pak'n'save Timaru.