A few tea-swilling bloggers were invited to meet the founder of Dilmah tea (one of my favourite brands) - Merrill Fernando - and his son, Dilhan. Their story was awe-inspiring, not just for the tea but the single-minded vision Merrill Fernando had of not just bringing 'the finest tea in the world' to the world, but making sure that those that worked in the fields had a better life and a better quality of living.
I am rather fond of Dilmah's Darjeeling tea bags, usually found in hotel conferences. Haven't seen these anywhere. Trust me I've looked. For that matter, you rarely see Dilmah teas in any of the supermarkets except in the odd Spinneys. And even then, barely the one you want. *sigh*
The story behind the brand and the family now make me determined to not only try their teas because every cup of tea contributes to the work they do with the community, but because they had a huge array of these teas on display at the event. All of us were encouraged to try them and sample different types, pair them with the different snacks on offer. There were some very nice open cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches but the tea was king!
Of course with tea tasting, came the discussions on hot and cold milk, associations with tea and the reason for the visit. They were in Dubai (and Abu Dhabi) for their High Tea competition held in partnership with the Emirates Culinary Guild. Some very well-known names among the properties that took part in the competition and judging by the conversation around the table, there were some very interesting food and pairings with tea. One hopes that some make it to the menus.
I remember my grandmother had a tradition of high tea with the full tradition of the British Raj. Except the snacks of cucumber sandwiches and dainty scones were replaced by Muri (or Kurmura/puffed rice) and Shingara (samosas to all you non-Bengali types) and chanachoor (I have no way of describing this in one English word - sorry).
So I'm glad someone is bringing back traditions of high tea. Its serious - this tea swilling business. Just ask the Dilmah family. And the rest of Sri Lanka.