Yorkshire Tea has urged social media users to “try to be kind” after the popular brand became embroiled in a row involving a leading Tory politician.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a picture on Friday of him appearing to make a huge tea round for his Treasury staff.
The Twitter image led to calls by some on the left for a boycott of the brand.
The company said it had been “pretty shocked” by the outcry, reminding people that Jeremy Corbyn had also posed with its products in 2017.
Over the last four decades, the firm has evolved from a regional blend found in Yorkshire shops to one of the UK’s most successful exports, being sold as far afield as Australia and China.
But it said it had had a “rough weekend” after Mr Sunak posted an image on Friday of him holding a bumper pack of 1,040 tea bags. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who represents the North Yorkshire seat of Richmond, said he was “making tea for the team” as he took a quick break from preparations for his Budget in just over two weeks time.
Yorkshire Tea, which is owned by Taylors of Harrogate, was quick to make clear on Friday that it had had nothing to do with the photo and had not been told in advance by the chancellor’s team that he would associate himself with their brand.
In an impassioned thread on Monday, the firm said it had spent “the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls”.
A member of the firm’s social media team put the avalanche of criticism it has received into perspective, saying it was “easier to be on the receiving end of this as a brand than as an individual”. But they urged people to remember that the company had a human as well as a corporate face.
Mr Sunak is not the first politician to suggest their endeavours would be helped by pausing for a cuppa. During a visit to York in 2017, Mr Corbyn said he would be happy to discuss climate change and other issues over a pot of Yorkshire Tea with Donald Trump if he ever made it to Downing Street.