Emirates and Dilmah Tea have enjoyed a longstanding partnership of brewing the finest teas on board and in Emirates’ airport lounges around the world for the past 30 years. To celebrate the milestone that took place on International Tea Day last Saturday (21), all Emirates’ passengers received a special tea box when they flew from Dubai.

Brunch spoke to Dilmah Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dilhan C. Fernando, who shared a few words on the long standing partnership. 

“For 30 years we have grown a tea-inspired collaboration with Emirates, offering customers a uniquely Emirates experience in tea,” he said. 

He went into detail about the special tea that was gifted to passengers, explaining that in order to celebrate the Pearl Anniversary of their partnership in tea, they created a tea that is as rare as it is magnificent.

The special tea pack for all passengers who flew last Saturday contained three different flavours: Ceylon Breakfast, an Emirates-exclusive turmeric, coconut and vanilla tea, and the popular Earl Grey with honey. Fernando described it to be “a seasonal tea with extraordinary finesse, handpicked from tea bushes prepared for months and crafted into a numbered limited-edition tea”.

In addition, he informed us that first-class passengers on flights to the UK were treated to a food pairing, while passengers in the Emirates’ onboard lounge were offered Dilmah Tea-infused mocktails.

He further noted that their co-operation with Emirates truly presents the luxury in fine tea, and in their tea mocktails and food pairings with contemporary, tea-inspired hospitality. Fernando told us that for the last 30 years, they have created many unique moments for Emirates customers either on the ground, in its lounges around the world, or at 40,000 feet, and this year is no different. “We are excited to have the special 30-year blend on board the Emirates’ fleet,” he added.

Brunch also reached out to Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President – Service Delivery Thomas Ney, who shared a few words on behalf of Emirates. Ney proudly announced that millions of world-class cups of tea have been poured for Emirates customers since the airline’s partnership with Dilmah began in 1992. He further stated that the airline brings the finest products on board through long-standing partnerships worldwide, including support for local suppliers and artisans. At the moment, Emirates takes the Dilmah brand to more than 130 destinations on six continents. Going into more detail on their partnership, Ney informed us that Emirates has had an exceptional partnership with Dilmah and have grown in tandem for the last 30 years.

According to Ney, Emirates focuses on dishes that emphasise fresh ingredients of the highest quality. “We pay special attention to every detail, and the quality of the tea we offer our customers is no different. The fact that we have served Dilmah Tea for 30 years across all our cabins is proof of its quality and our satisfaction with the perfect cup of tea,” he commented.

It was also highlighted that over 9.6 million tea bags are used each year across their fleet with more than 10 tea varieties on offer, including an exclusive Emirates Signature Tea served in first class.

 In first class, Emirates also offers the Brilliant Breakfast, one of the many gourmet teas created by passionate tea maker and Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando. This is paired with the afternoon tea service on board.

Commenting on this, Fernando told us that the Moroccan Mint Green tea was exquisitely paired alongside Labneh, which is a tangy and creamy yoghurt with roast vegetables for vegetarians,while Dilmah’s Sencha Green Extra Special tea that is renowned for its delicate taste with herbal finish with a touch of sweetness, is served with sushi and other kinds of seafood.

Speaking about the selection process behind what teas are offered on board, Fernando explained that the teas offered on Emirates are chosen by popularity amongst customers, catering to different preferences like minty or citrus infusions as well as by looking at tea drinking trends. Too often, people look at tea as something very mundane and ordinary; too few people today are reaching for a good cup of tea simply because of a lack of understanding the complexity and properties of it.

Fernando added that they wanted to present this concept to highlight the importance of reframing tea and show what it really offers. 

 He stated that in terms of different varieties and impact on health, tea is unprecedented, saying: “It is particularly important in Sri Lanka as it is a growing country, and it is also important because tea as an immune booster is a potent, protective beverage.”

He added: “With an increasing focus on wellness amongst customers, the airline recently introduced a new tea in its airport lounges – turmeric, coconut, and vanilla featuring antioxidant properties.”

Fernando, throwing in a little fun fact about tea, stated that tea has a unique level of antioxidants and goodness which is a hundred times greater than what any parent in a common household would encourage their child to eat. “Our number-one trend would be the health and wellbeing attributes in tea, which I can assure you are not matched by any other beverage in the world.”

On board, Ney told us, the most popular tea in economy class is the Dilmah Ceylon Black Tea while passengers in first and business classes favour Moroccan Mint and Breakfast Tea. Emirates serves a selection of six teas in business class and its airport lounges, and a further six teas in first class.

The two companies hope to continue their partnership for many years to come and offer their customers only the finest of teas, bringing our local products to a global audience.

This article was originally published in Brunch

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