I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to attend last week’s Dilmah Real High Tea Charitea at the Langham Hotel in Sydney’s Rocks.
Well, Iwas excited to say the least, and invited my dear friend Emma (now known by the title of “purveyor of interesting retro goods” based at Mitchell Road Design and Antiques Centre). I knew she would make a glam companion and I wasn’t disappointed at all. We made a fine pair to say the least, in our brightly coloured dresses on what was a gorgeously sunny and crisp day out.
I had a few moments to spare, so took the time to sit in the sun and enjoy the view.
Emma made her entrance to the Langham in her shining chariot which was then whisked away by the lovely valet. We entered the gorgeous Langham Hotel lobby, with its artwork adorning the walls and plonked down in one of the luxuriously soft and squishy couches.
Being frocked up as we were, and it being so rare for this to be the case we thought we better go capture the occasion and take some pictures “for the blog”. Down a lane we went and proceed to make total goons out of ourselves snapping away on the iPhone. Fun times indeed!
We headed back to the Langham Hotel and made our way into the Observatory Ballroom. Upon finding a table with some friendly-looking ladies we refreshed with the first cup of tea, Ran Watt “a light refreshing palate with a mellow after-taste”. Spot on! A look through the menu got my tummy rumbling, neither of us had had breakfast and the menu looked enticing to say the least.
The room filled up with people as our excitement and hunger grew. We were delighted to have celebrity chef, and host of the event Peter Kuruvita and his lovely family join our table. Mr Merrill J Fernando – founder of Dilmah Tea, and his son Dilhan were just across at the next table, along with some of the finalists of the Real High Tea Consumer Challenge. Two of the dishes from the competition were on the menu – the Orange and Almond Baklava (which we unfortunately did not get to sample as we didn’t get a plate of this at our table, sad face), and the Green Tea with Jasmine Smoked Duck Breast with Celeriac Remoulade on Brioche Toast. The duck breast was so tender, and I do love Brioche – so rich and buttery. I think this was my favourite dish of the day.
Amongst the other delights served were crustless Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, & Egg and Mayo sandwiches, little quiches, fresh scones (plain and fruit), pastries, tarts, macarons, & mini cupcakes. All served with Dilmah tea of course!
Whilst we were nibbling away we were treated to an insight into the Real High Tea competition, and the huge amount of food that the judges had to eat.
Most importantly of all we got to hear from Merrill J Fernando himself, along with his son Dilhan. Merrill has been in the Tea trade as a farmer for an astounding 63 years! Blessed with success, he made it his mission to give back to the community and improve their lives. It truly was an honor to be in the presence of an inspirational man, who has achieved so much in helping others.
Dilmah’s philosophy is that “Business is a Matter of Human Service” and it upholds its “Six Pillars”of Integrity, Tradition, Quality, Ethics, our Customer, and Sustainability.
Merrill’s vision arose back in the 1950’s when tea was a commoditised industry, with little regard for quality, or the wellbeing of those who were involved in its production. At that stage, tea from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was sent to London in bulk and then packaged up and sold by other parties. The good name and reputation of the tea remained with the packers, rather than being attributed to its original source, the farmers and producers. He worked to turn the industry around and for the tea to be branded and packaged up from Ceylon. It took 38 years for this vision to be realised into the Dilmah tea business and the brand is now known around the world.
With this great success, Merrill was able to give back to the people and workers of Sri Lanka, and the MJF Charitable Foundation was born. Today, this charity supports over 100 projects that improve the lives of 10,000 plus underprivileged Sri Lankans annually.
The best way you can support the MJF Foundation in the excellent work they do is simply to buy Dilmah tea. They have lots of great flavours, and you can buy knowing their tea is of the highest quality and produced ethically.
Why not do as Merrill recommends and take 8 minutes out of your day to make a good cup of tea and you’ll be much more productive for the rest of the day! x