Emirates and Dilmah Tea have enjoyed a longstanding partnership over the past 30 years.To celebrate this partnership and highlight the qualities of the organic tea, a joint press conference was held in Brussels on 16 June, together with the Sri Lankan Embassy to Belgium.
1. Fragrant brews with sky high views
Emirates serves over 33 million cups of tea each year to passengers onboard its flights, as well as offering a range of teas in its airport lounges worldwide. The rising popularity of tea consumption among passengers can be attributed to the growing adoption of wellness lifestyles. Tea not only provides a moment of comfort and calm but also offers numerous health benefits and healing properties. Emirates presents a selection of 12 gourmet blends to its passengers.
2. Sri Lanka’s organic tea
Emirates partners exclusively with Dilmah Tea, a passionate, family-owned Sri Lankan tea company that has been in operation since 1985. Dilmah Tea follows a unique production process where the tea is cultivated, handpicked, and packed at the origin, preserving its natural goodness and ensuring its position as one of the finest teas in the world.
Handpicked in the central hills of Sri Lanka, the tea leaves undergo a meticulous process of withering, rolling, fermenting, and firing, resulting in tea with sophisticated aromas, tastes, and textures that go straight from the plantation to the cup. Merrill Fernando, the founder of Dilmah Tea, fondly refers to it as “nature’s gift of goodness.” The company explains that healthy, natural teas, especially green and black tea, contain polyphenols such as catechins and flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, protecting the body against free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to chronic diseases.
Sharing a pot of tea in the afternoon is a common way for Sri Lankans to wind down from a busy day while the tea of choice in most households is the strong black tea, commonly called “Ceylon Tea”. Health benefits associated with drinking tea and the country’s tea heritage still attracts many tourists to Sri Lanka.
The founder of Dilmah Tea himself has turned just 93 years of age and attributes regular tea drinking to his good health.Arianne Heij, Founding Member of Dilmah Europe
Sri Lanka, which produces around 300 million kilograms of tea annually and is predominantly an orthodox tea (loose leaf tea produced using traditional) producer, is trying to rebuild its tourism sector after recent political turbulence. “The country has only recently emerged from a period of political instability and is again welcoming foreign tourists”, Dulmini Dahanayake, Second Secretary at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Brussels, explained at the press conference.
“We are over the worst now and the political instability we experienced is behind us. We are ready to once again welcome tourists to the country. Everything is in order now and the aim is to put us back on the tourist map”, Dahanayake added.
In the meantime, tea remains vital to Sri Lanka’s economy, being the world’s largest supplier of orthodox tea. The country exports more than 95% of its production, which accounts for an estimated 65% of its overall global exports.
3. Tea training for cabin crew
Emirates believes that serving tea is a ritual that requires thought and care. The airline’s cabin crew members undergo specialized tea training, which includes learning about the sustainable origins of Dilmah tea, familiarizing themselves with unique flavors, mastering the art of brewing the perfect cup, and enhancing flavor with a variety of accompaniments such as fresh mint, honey, and lemon.
In First Class, passengers are offered locally produced natural superfood honey by UAE brand April to sweeten their tea. First Class passengers can enjoy their tea in a choice of Royal Doulton fine bone teacups or mugs, while Business Class passengers are served tea in Royal Doulton fine bone china mugs. Emirates also ensures the quality of water used to make the tea by regularly monitoring and maintaining water tanks, transportation equipment, and supply lines to provide perfectly potable water.
Cabin crew members are also trained in tea and food pairing, offering recommendations such as pairing green tea with seafood, soft cheeses, and sushi, black tea with beef, game, sweet desserts, or hard cheeses, and combining floral teas like Chamomile with dishes that have a citrus or tart flavor profile.