I was lucky enough to score an invite to the Dilmah High Tea Event. The event was held at the Langham hotel, a 5 star luxury hotel formerly known as the Observatory Hotel.
Now everyone knows that I love a good cup of tea and I’m sure most of you also know that I love high tea (see my High Tea To Do List). I knew from the start that this was going to be a beautiful high tea and I was not disappointed. The staff were friendly and helpful and I was quickly ushered into a very elegant looking room where I found about 100 people seated at round tables.
Peter Kuruvita, a half Sri Lankan, half Austrian who was born in England and resides in Australia (how very multicultural!) was the host. Peter is one of Australia’s top chefs and is well-known for his restaurant Flying Fish, in Pyrmont (see my Food Bucket List). He welcomed us all to the event and told us a little bit about his involvement with Dilmah and as a judge of their Real High Tea competition.
He then introduced Dilhan Fernando, one half of where the name “Dilmah” comes from (the other half is his brother, Malik, who was not present). Dilhan gave a speech about Dilmah’s passion for producing truly ethical tea and their commitment to giving back to the community. It was really nice to hear how all this work could be done in a developing country such as Sri Lanka simply through the support of tea lovers purchasing Dilmah tea products.
We then heard from Mr Merill J. Fernando himself. I was quite star struck hearing him speak after seeing him on TV for so many years! He was a very dignified and well-spoken person and being of Sri Lankan background myself, I have a lot of respect for what he has done for the country. He told us how he decided to market and sell pure Ceylon tea to the world to show people what real tea should taste like, as opposed to the mixed tea that was previously traded all over the world. We heard of his vision to produce, market and manage this tea company from Sri Lanka to ensure that he could give as much as possible back to the country through job creation and by helping the employees who helped him build his company. It’s hard to believe that he has been in the business for over 63 years! Mr Fernando thanked us, as Australian tea drinkers, for our support which he said was one of the main reasons for Dilmah’s success, and said that this high tea event was one way in which they could give back to some of the company’s supporters.
Merrill J. Fernando, Dilmah Founder
Upon conclusion of his speech, we were invited to enjoy the high tea treats which Dilmah and the Langham Hotel had put on for us, whilst watching a few videos about the MJF Charitable Foundation’s work in Sri Lanka. The foundation uses part of Dilmah’s revenue to support underprivileged people in Sri Lanka through providing access to education, better living conditions, community health programs and support to families who have lost loved ones in the North.
During the video we were treated to a wonderful menu of:
Smoked salmon, cucumber and egg and mayonnaise sandwiches
Green tea with jasmine smoked duck breast with celeriac remoulade on brioche toast (I never used to eat duck as I once had a pet duckling, but I accidentally ate this one without checking what it was! My first time eating duck! It wasn’t too bad at all but I haven’t decided if I will keep eating duck from now on or try to avoid it :s).
Fresh baked scones- mixed fruit and plan with home-made strawberry jam and cream (served in the cutest lil jars!)
Chocolate Mousse in a wafer cup
The perfect accompaniment to all these delicious treats was the selection of Dilmah Teas available to try including Ran Watte, Meda Watte, YataWatte and Uda Watte.
Have I got you drooling yet? What a spread! At the end of it I was so full and couldn’t eat another bite if I wanted to (which I did!).
The winners of Dilmah’s Sydney Real High Tea challenge were announced and the 4 lucky winners won tickets to Sri Lanka to visit the Dilmah Tea Estate. Peter Kuruvita closed the event by saying that normally in a charity function they would ask for donations, but in this case, simply purchasing Dilmah tea helps the Foundation work towards its goals.
We then had the opportunity to meet the “stars of the show” and I was delighted to be able to get a photo with, and speak to Peter, Dilhan and Mr Fernando.
With Peter Kuruvita
With Merrill J. Fernando, Peter Kuruvita, Dilhan Fernando and friends
I was also very excited to meet my blogging idol, the gorgeous Mrs Lorraine Elliot of Not Quite Nigella (check out her blog at: http://www.notquitenigella.com/) and I can honestly say that she is absolutely lovely!
We left with some wonderful goodie bags, stuffed with teas and tea-making instruments- a perfect way to finish off a great afternoon!