Celebrating International Tea Day on 21 May, Emirates highlights the sustainable origins, healing properties, and artful service of artisan tea onboard Emirates flights to 140 destinations around the world, as tea consumption increases by more than 10% over recent years.
Fragrant brews with sky high views
Each year, Emirates brews more than 33 million cups of tea for passengers onboard, as well as serving a range of tea in Emirates’ airport lounges worldwide. Tea consumption onboard has steadily risen in recent years by over 10% as many passengers embrace a wellness lifestyle. Tea has a myriad of health benefits and healing properties, as well as providing a ritualistic moment that many find enhances comfort and calm.
Emirates offers a selection of 12 gourmet blends; from the energy boosting Original Earl Grey, to a mellow and stomach-settling Pure Chamomile Flowers, healthy and antioxidant Sencha Green Extra Special to Turmeric, Coconut and Vanilla – a relaxing tea with anti-inflammatory properties, Natural Green Tea and Ceylon Black Tea – pure forms of tea, digestion-friendly Moroccan Mint, energising Breakfast Tea, and the Emirates Signature Blend – an exclusive master-crafted tea composed of marigold, safflower, rose, and notes of almond and ginger to represent the flavours of the UAE.
Elevating wellness with tea
Onboard Emirates, the most popular tea in First Class is Moroccan Mint Green Tea, while Business Class passengers are enjoying a lot of both Moroccan Mint Green Tea and Chamomile Tea and the popular choice in Economy Class is traditional Ceylon Black Tea.
Emirates partners exclusively with Dilmah Tea, who explain 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. Tea contains caffeine, which can enhance mental alertness, focus, and concentration but as the caffeine content in tea is generally lower than coffee, it provides a more moderate and sustained energy boost without causing jitteriness, ideal for passengers travelling through time zones. Chamomile tea has a mildly sedative quality, which can support passengers who need to sleep on long haul journeys. Certain herbal teas, such as peppermint, can also aid digestion and alleviate symptoms like bloating and nausea – another challenge some experience when their normal routine is changed due to travelling.
Timeless Tea Training for Cabin Crew
Emirates considers the serving of tea to be a ritual that requires thought and care. Emirates Cabin Crew receive a specialised tea learning experience, where they discover the sustainable origins of Dilmah tea, are introduced to the unique flavours, learn how to brew the perfect cup, and further enhance flavour with an array of accoutrements- from fresh mint, to honey and lemon. In First Class, passengers who wish to sweeten their tea are offered natural superfood – honey, locally produced by UAE brand April. First Class passengers can enjoy their tea in a choice of Royal Doulton fine bone teacup or mug, while Business Class passengers are served tea in the Royal Doulton fine bone china mug. The quality of the water used to make the tea is also considered and regularly monitored, and Emirates ensures that the water tanks, equipment used for transportation and supply lines provide perfectly potable water, through regular disinfection, maintenance, and audits.
Cabin crew also learn about tea and food pairing, where key recommendations for passengers can include pairing seafood, soft cheeses and sushi with green tea, beef and game, sweet desserts, or hard cheeses with black tea, or combining floral teas such as Chamomile with dishes that have a citrus or tart flavour profile – like Emirates new vegan dish – Zucchini tart.
Steeped in history – Emirates and Dilmah Tea
For more than three decades, Emirates has chosen to partner with passionate, family-owned Dilmah Tea, a Sri Lankan tea company launched in 1985, the first producer-owned tea brand globally whereby the tea is cultivated, handpicked and packed at origin – perfectly preserving its natural goodness and ensuring an unrivalled position as one of the finest teas in the world.
The Dilmah tea estates sit majestically amidst awe-inspiring vistas of abundant waterfalls, rising mountain tops and lush landscapes, producing exceptional quality Ceylon Tea. Ceylon Tea is made from the finest quality tea leaves in pristine estates at the highest elevation, and the tea gets its unique characteristic and flavours from the rich biodiversity of the forest that surrounds it. Handpicked in the central hills of Sri Lanka, the tea leaves are withered, rolled, fermented, and fired to produce tea with sophisticated aromas, tastes, and textures -fresh from plantation to cup. The purity of Dilmah tea led to the founder, Merrill Fernando nicknaming it ‘natures gift of goodness.’
The History of Tea
The origins of tea can be traced back thousands of years to ancient China. According to legend and historical accounts, the story of tea begins with the Chinese Emperor Shennong, who reigned around 2737 BCE. One day, as he was sitting beneath a tree, leaves from the tree fell into a pot of boiling water, creating a fragrant infusion. Intrigued by the aroma, the emperor decided to taste the brew and found it refreshing and delightful. This serendipitous discovery is often considered the mythical origin of tea.
Tea cultivation and consumption gradually spread through neighbouring countries gained popularity for its medicinal properties and invigorating effects, cherished for its calming and meditative qualities. Tea eventually made its way to other parts of the world through trade and exploration. The Arab merchants brought tea to the Middle East and North Africa, where it was enthusiastically embraced and adapted to regional tastes. From there, tea found its way to Europe via trade routes, and it gained popularity among European aristocracy in the 17th century. The British East India Company played a significant role in introducing tea to the Western world, making it a staple beverage in many countries.
5 Top tips for a perfect brew at home
1. Select a high-quality tea such as Dilmah made in the traditional artisanal way, as a tea packed at source will retain its freshness and purity.
2. To protect the fresh taste and natural goodness, transfer content into a clean, dry, airtight and odour free container and store in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate if possible.
3. Use a kettle that is free of limescale or sediment, and fill to the required level with filtered or spring water. Boil the fresh water to 100°C. Never re-boil water because the carbon dioxide gas that is present in water affects the acidity, which plays a critical role in the ionization of tea polyphenols and will affect the taste and caffeine content.
4. Brew the tea between 2-5 minutes and stir to allow the flavour to infuse.
5. If you enjoy sweetened tea, use honey as a natural sweetener. Fresh mint leaves, ginger, lemon, lemongrass, cardamom are natural enhancements to tea, alongside warm milk. White tea, green tea and oolong tea are best enjoyed without milk or sugar.