The Teamaker’s Philosophy
“In 1950 I devoted my life to tea. I saw so much inequality around the world that even as a young teamaker with nothing more than a big dream, I decided that my Dilmah Tea would serve humanity. I wanted my passion for tea to benefit my customers, workers, marginalised people in the community and the environment; I made Dilmah a business that is also a matter of human service.
That commitment has so far generated $40 million of direct humanitarian aid and environmental interventions. Thousands of children, young women and men, impoverished adults, farmers, war widows, have been touched by my Foundation. Endangered species, degraded eco-systems and agriculture have benefited from the work Dilmah Conservation does in conservation, restoration, environmental education, climate adaptation and advocacy.
As I approached my 70th year in tea, I changed my pledge. A minimum 10% of the pretax profits from Dilmah funded the work of the MJF Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. In 2020, I increased that to 15%.
Every business has an obligation to share its success with those that need it, and to be a part of the solution to inequality, global warming and the multitude of other threats that we face today. We are a small, family business and we cannot do this alone, but we have to do more.
I thank God, every one of my customers, my family and team at Dilmah, and every friend of Dilmah for making my dream come true. Thank you for making every cup of Dilmah, a cup of kindness.”
Merrill J. Fernando
Founder of Dilmah
A footnote from his sons
“Our father’s mission in tea began in 1950. As a young Ceylonese Teaman - amongst the first group of Ceylonese to be permitted to learn tea tasting - he saw his country's prized Ceylon Tea being mixed and blended for profit. He resolved to establish his own brand, to offer tea that would be handpicked, handmade and of the highest quality, with the assurance of natural goodness, and a genuine commitment to caring for workers and the environment. It was a dream that none had dared to dream. Almost 40 years of struggle followed and Dilmah was born in 1985, proving that where passion and purpose meet, success is assured. It was the first time that a native tea grower from any tea producing country had launched a genuinely ethical, farmer-owned brand. From these humble beginnings, Dilmah grew as an authentic, handmade tea, founded on the unique philosophy of making business a matter of human service.
The Dilmah Story is one of great Taste, natural Goodness and a sincere commitment to ethical Purpose. The fulfilment of our father’s philosophy is evident in the uncompromising commitment to the founding principles of the Quality, Freshness, purity of origin, and expressed in the lives of tens of thousands of children, youth and adults, whose lives have been transformed by the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation.
Our father faced overwhelming odds in pursuit of his dream of quality, ethics & sustainability in tea. He pledged to make his business a matter of human service - combining Taste, Goodness and Purpose. 37 years later, that promise is honored without compromise, now guarded by 3 generations. His story proves that where passion for quality, faith in God, dedication and ethical purpose meet, all things are possible. The celebration of our father’s 72nd years in tea and his 92nd birthday is equally an appreciation of Nature’s magnificent herb, a producer’s uncompromising commitment to quality, and the purpose that lies beyond profit.”
Dilhan & Malik Fernando
Sons of Dilmah Founder