‘Tea is one of the most social herbs in existence’, proclaimed Dilhan C. Fernando, director of Ceylon-based tea producer, Dilmah, to a rapt audience of tourism professionals and media representatives attending the Dilmah School of Tea.
He spoke with a rich and authoritative tone that bestowed the humble brew with the kind of prestige usually reserved for Oscar presentations. From the stage he must have struggled to see beyond the twinkling, refracted light from the wine glasses, various strainers, and miniature tea-tins that decked our tables. Thinking there wasn’t much more to tea than my usual routine of plopping a tea bag into a mug, drinking half and then forgetting about it, I was about to get schooled.
Beginning with an imperial history of the tea-trade and covering tea categories, production methods, ‘how to brew the perfect cup of tea’, and finishing with tea mixology and gastronomy pairings, Dilhan summarised a lifetime of acquired tea-knowledge. The 3-hour session was riddled with tastings impeccably delivered by an infantry of teapot bearing waiters, and practical demonstrations. We even wore aprons.
Have you ever wondered whether it’s best to leave, stir or repeatedly dip your tea bag to aid substance diffusion? I can confirm that repeated dipping is the most effective by an increasing margin the longer the brewing time. Now you can rest easy. I must admit that, as a tea-peasant, the outlandish pageantry was half the fun.
Dilmah’s company philosophy revolves around responsible capitalism and striving for authentic quality, and Dilhan’s infectious passion and obvious deep commitment to the family business is admirable. He spoke of a modern ‘renaissance in tea’ propelled by an increasing fashion in and concern for well-being. Overall it was a thoroughly fun and educational afternoon. So, chicory-root-latte swilling, turmeric yogis, what’s the next Big Trend in health? Yeah, tea. You heard it here first.
Music, art and culture journalist, Lena Hunter, is travelling, writing and looking for high jinks.
Dilhan C. Fernando runs one School of Tea session per city as part of the Dilmah international training program and, having completed his Australian tour, will be teaching in Europe for the month of June.