As Sri Lanka celebrated the 150th anniversary of Ceylon Tea in 2017, Emirates marked its 25 year partnership with Dilmah, the country’s premier tea brand.
A collaboration that began in 1992 has resulted in a select range of 10 types of tea being produced exclusively for Emirates passengers on flights worldwide, catering to a wide palate of taste and sensory preferences.
More than 9.6 million tea bags made in Sri Lanka by Dilmah are served on Emirates flights around the world per year. Both brands have grown exponentially since their collaboration began and today Emirates, the world’s largest airline by passenger kilometres, takes the Dilmah brand to more than 150 destinations on six continents.
At the top of the airline’s exclusive tea selection is the Emirates Signature Tea – a single-estate tea made from Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1 leaf growing at an elevation of 1020 meters above sea level on the Dombagastalawa Estate, in Sri Lanka’s Nawalapitiya region. Made in the artisanal orthodox style with a sprinkling of marigold and safflower, the coppery infusion reveals the excellent natural climatic influence on the tea before the tender shoots were handpicked.
“The Emirates Signature Tea is really a very special tea that we are honoured to have crafted for Emirates passengers,” said Dilhan C. Fernando, Director at Dilmah. “Our emphasis was on offering passengers a signature and therefore uniquely Emirates experience in tea, so we integrated Rose as a defining element of the cultural heritage of Emirates airline, added Almond to balance the richness of the Rose especially for male guests, while using an ingredient that symbolises good health and luxury in the Middle East. The hint of Ginger has a functional element in restraining the extravagant aroma and flavour of Rose and Almond while emphasising the natural goodness that the tea offers – for Ginger, like tea, is potent in its human health benefits.”
The aroma and taste elements in the Emirates Signature Tea are designed to work in elegant pairing with food, but the tea can be a dessert in itself. While savoury dishes with nuts or leafy vegetables in them work well with the tea, it is also an excellent accompaniment to most desserts including chocolate, caramel or light cake.
“We’re proud to offer gourmet food and beverages as part of our commitment to a superior passenger experience. Food and beverages are at the heart of our on-board offerings which is why it’s so important to have the right partnerships in place and is why we continue to invest in and support world-class local suppliers like Dilmah,” said Joost Heymeijer, Emirates Senior Vice President, Catering.
The teas offered to passengers flying with Emirates are chosen on the basis of the popularity of different types of tea such as Earl Grey, but also looking at trends and functional expectations such as a certain intensity of flavour and the need to cater to different preferences like minty or citrus infusions.
In general, black teas are the most popular among passengers in Economy Class, while passengers in First and Business Class seem to favour Moroccan Mint and English Breakfast tea. The range available on each flight is based on the route and configuration of the aircraft, but every First Class cabin on a long-haul flight offers a choice of 10, from Ceylon Black Tea, Green Tea, Camomile Infusion, Earl Grey Tea, Moroccan Mint Tea, Moroccan Mint Green Tea, Brilliant Breakfast Tea, Original Earl Grey Tea, Sencha Green extra Special, Pure Chamomile Flower Tea and the Emirates Signature Tea.
Emirates commenced operations to Sri Lanka in April 1986 and operates a total of 35 flights a week from Colombo — 28 flights westward to Malé and Dubai and seven eastward to Singapore. The airline has deployed ultra-modern Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft on flights serving Sri Lanka, offering passengers gourmet regional cuisine and the airline’s award-winning ice entertainment system with up to 3,000 channels of movies, television programmes, games, audio books, and music, as well as the famed hospitality of its multi-national Cabin Crew.
Travel with Emirates also earns passengers Skywards Miles on the airline’s award-winning frequent flyer programme. Accrued Skywards Miles can be redeemed for free tickets, travel upgrades or other benefits.