Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dilmah Lover's Leap: a tea for me

This maker advertises his teas as "ethically grown." Dilmah, founded by Merrill J. Fernando, seeks to revive the tea trade in his native Sri Lanka, and to grow blends that favor local regions in this island rather than cheaper pekoe dust and mass-production methods that fail to move multinational profits back into the community. Similar to what some coffee exchanges are doing, Dilmah aims to do for tea-- to help Third World economies and sustain rural livelihoods.

I have liked their Ceylon Supreme and English Breakfast teabags;, and their Ceylon Estate fancier trapezoidally shaped net-bag brand. They have a clean, organic mouthfeel that holds up well to milk and sweetener, the way I prefer tea. They also have a line of green tea, and a pricier Watte estate line.

This gourmet Watte line seeks as with wine varietals from a single region to give, for the first time for tea, an appellation to bestow on a particular estate. These are more complex, aspiring to what a vineyard might seek to grow over decades to sell as its special concoction. So, I tried "Lover's Leap."

On the "Watte Boutique Tea" website, it's described: "Sophisticated and fragrant, Lover’s Leap Ran Watte Tea is complex, with hints of fruit, honey and eucalyptus. Its light, golden infusion and greenish infusion beautifully conveys the delicate, yet firm liquor." I'd second that description. I favor darker, stronger, maltier tea, but the combination of an earthier tinge akin to green teas into this appealingly complex brew surprised me. I rarely rate five stars for anything, but this is fragrant tea.

After reading a depressing book, "No Man Is Vile," by William McGowan about the civil strife convulsing Sri Lanka in past decades, and after years not getting a sturdy Kandy black tea that I liked once when Trader Joe's carried it a decade ago, I made a note to try to support their devastated tea industry. Dilmah's line of tea comes with a little pamphlet that explains their mission to pack tea and sell it fresh and to control the whole process to ensure flavor, ethics, and quality. Their very informative and well-designed "Dilmah Tea" website tells more of the good works they strive to share, and who can disagree?

Dilmah tea can be hard to find, and I only have bought it when three hundred-eighty miles away from my L.A. home, when visiting near Santa Cruz, California! The site says it's sold in 92 countries now. Perhaps other retailers carry it? If you have seen it around your neighborhood, please let us know. I wrote the vendors but the American distributor's website's MIA, and the Sri Lankan's one's incommunicado. (Posted to 9-10-10)

1 comment:

John L. Murphy / "Fionnchú" said...

If anyone knows where this may be found or who distributes it, kindly let me know.