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The Dilmah story

The Dilmah story

Rich pickings

Introducing the world’s first genuinely ethical tea brand.

After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world with over 5.9 million tonnes produced globally in 2018. 

As a consequence, it is viewed by many as a commodity but a unique family-owned business in Sri Lanka is working hard to buck that trend, by being the first producer-owned tea brand to grow, pick and pack its luxury teas at origin.

Here, we discover how Dilmah Tea has been shaking up the industry with its delicious single origin teas…

Founding father

Fernando, had a unique vision to offer consumers the finest tea on earth and to do so with ethics and integrity.

In his own words, he started as a “small tea grower with big dreams”, and it took him nearly four decades until he was in a position to launch his own brand in 1988.

Now an international brand which is enjoyed in over 100 countries, Dilmah was founded on a passionate commitment to quality and authenticity in tea, and is the world’s first ethically produced tea.

Merrill is now one of the most experienced tea tasters in service today with over 70 years in tea, and his expertise ensures the highest quality products. His sons Dilhan and Malik also work in the business.

Handpicked perfection

Dilmah’s single origin teas are handpicked in the traditional method at the Dilmah Tea Gardens in the home of the world’s finest tea – Ceylon.

At the time tea first enjoyed its global acclaim, tea was unblended, celebrating the identity of tea from origins known for quality. A century later the concept of blending became popular, as celebrated teas from Ceylon and other famous regions became expensive. But Dilmah believe blending in this way compromises the authenticity, freshness and sacrifices quality in tea.

Garden fresh

Fresh tea is richer in flavour, aroma, and the subtle characteristics that form the terroir of fine tea. Fresh tea is also richer in antioxidants. Tea that is shipped in bulk for blending and packing overseas, or not packed and protected shortly after harvesting, absorbs moisture as it ages. This leads to the development of toxins which degrade flavour and can significantly affect the natural antioxidants in tea.

Strong ethics

The environment is central to Dilmah’s business and 15% of all pre-tax profits directly benefits people and the planet through a range of initiatives including healthcare, education, scholarships and supporting community-based projects, solar energy, hydroelectricity, elephant conservation via the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.

The MJF Charitable Foundation designs, funds and implements over 150 projects each year, changing the lives of over 10,000 people each year through education, housing, welfare and empowerment programmes.

“I am not marketing tea. I am marketing a philosophy - the philosophy of caring and sharing, of giving everyone a very fair deal. I offer my customers the freshest and finest tea on earth; I provide my workers with the best possible deal; I share with the wider community and reinvest in the industry to make tea sustainable. My business is a matter of human service.” - Merrill J. Fernando

The range

With the resurgence of tea and the increased appreciation of tea culture, tea has become a modern must-have experience within the global hospitality industry.

The Dilmah range includes traditional speciality, gourmet and premium teas, herbal infusions, pure Ceylon green teas, flavoured teas and spiced chais. In addition, the Dilmah Elixir of Ceylon Tea range provides the perfect ingredient for making iced tea, cocktails and mocktails.

Back to school

Dilmah created the world’s first consumer and hospitality tea school to educate industry professionals in the art of preparing and presenting tea. The School of Tea is a World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WCAS) recognised culinary education institution.

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