Ultimate battle of all things tea is here

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando (second from left) addressing the press conference yesterday. Others from left: Malik J. Fernando, Dilhan C. Fernando, Peter Kuruvita, Simon Gault and Bernd Uber 

                          – Pic by Upul Abayasekara


By Sarah Hannan

National winners since 2013-2015 of 21 teams from 14 countries have now arrived in Colombo with anticipations of becoming the global champions of one of the toughest culinary competitions in the world. 

Culinary institutes, boutique restaurants and renowned hotel chains have come forward to put their skills to test at this week’s Dilmah Real High Tea Global Challenge which will take place from 1-4 July in Colombo. 

Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando addressed the gathering, welcoming the participants, and wished them luck in the challenge ahead as he unveiled The Leaf and Artisan Trophy at the opening ceremony yesterday – a trophy that is deeply symbolic with the leaf and hand echoing the essence of the unique Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge.

The challenge seeks to reimagine the tradition of high tea, whilst honouring the artisanal tradition of tea making and inculcating respect for tea. The trophy depicts two leaves and a bud – the leaf that is handpicked to make high quality tea, held aloft by the hand of the tea picker.

“One of the beautifully brewed teas that I have tasted along the whole journey; it has really brought out the character,” is what Chef Alan Palmer had to say at the last competition held in April to select the national winner of Sri Lanka. Ten teams competed on that day. A chef and a food and beverage specialist – ideally a mixologist – team up to serve up what the organisers call Real High Tea. 

Dilhan C. Fernando explaining the concept behind the setting up of the Dilmah Real High Tea Global Challenge stated: “High tea has lost its tradition and quality. We understood that as of late not many people pay attention to the pairing or how different teas are brewed. Moreover, the latest trends of high tea buffets in the city hotels have sort of crowded the menu with items. We do not see any knowledge being shared about how different teas are paired with the food that is served.”

He further noted the importance of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge, emphasising on the fact that the challenge is first and foremost a celebration of nature, passion and humanity and understanding the quality and respecting the infinite variety in tea. 

The unique Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge is considered the toughest tea competition in the world, demanding that contestants demonstrate skills in understanding the provenance of teas, their brewing method from water to timing, pairing of food with tea and sophistication and innovation in culinary and mixology.

As the week unfolds Colombo will witness the tea and the culinary arts experts concoct the best high tea experience under the watchful eye of the masters in tea gastronomy. For more information visit www.realhightea.dilmahtea.com.