Waters Edge seduces the judges with “Fifty Shades of Tea” at the Real High Tea Challenge

It took Fifty Shades of Tea to impress our judges, but it was done in style. Waters Edge with their movie-inspired high tea- ‘Fifty Shades of Tea’ emerged as the ultimate winners of the Sri Lankan chapter of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge, with Cinnamon Grand coming up a close second with their sustainable-themed high tea. Standards were so high that it was a remarkable day for the Dilmah Real High Tea judges with all the teams emerging as Gold, Silver and Bronze medallists.

Waters Edge seduced the judges with their movie-inspired concept – ‘Fifty Shades of Tea’ – which was selected overall National Winner of the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge Sri Lanka. Other contestants similarly impressed the judges with unique themes, innovative pairings and presentation whilst emphasising the quality of tea service. The criteria for the contest includes rationale, theme, table décor, quality of brewing and knowledge of provenance of the teas presented, flavour pairing with food as well as culinary, mixology technique.

Tea reigned throughout the 10 presentations which were all pleasing in their creativity. Ultimately Chef Buddika Samarasekera and Ishafahan Dain of Waters Edge secured victory with the quality and sophistication of the cuisine and the innovative guest experience they offered. Chef Buddhika has previously enjoyed success in Dilmah inspired culinary competitions as Gold Winner of the first Bocuse d’Or competition held in Sri Lanka in 2012. He went on to win Bronze at Bocuse d’Or Asia, an outstanding achievement on Sri Lanka’s first participation in the iconic Bocuse d’Or competition.


The winning presentation featured a tea from Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando’s innovative selection of four teas representing four distinctively different terroirs in Sri Lanka. Ran Watte Tea – a champagne of teas – was paired with Truffled Pumpkin and Sultana Flute. The complex and varied flavours in the dish elegantly paired with the high grown Ceylon Tea. Other teas included Dilmah Natural Ginger Tea, Dilmah’s First Ceylon Souchong, Moroccan Mint Green Tea.

A Dilmah Rose with French Vanilla Macaron was the highlight of the presentation, described as one of the best macarons he had tasted, by Presiding Judge Chef Bernd Uber. Dilhan C. Fernando added, “Last week we were judging the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge in Ecole de Cusine Alain Ducasse in Paris, France, the country where the macaron was invented. Chef Bernd Uber’s assessment is especially significant therefore, in context of the broad experience he has in tasting macarons from around the world.”

Explaining the contest Dilhan C. Fernando, son of Merrill J. Fernando said, “The Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge is unique – it is the toughest tea competition in the world, demanding 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. It is unique because we aim to bring the tradition of afternoon tea to the 21st Century, focussing the occasion on tea with all its goodness and pleasure whilst embracing contemporary culinary, mixology and beverage skills. Tea acquired an undeserved reputation for being boring – that was the fault of the brands that made tea staid, nothing to do with tea itself. Tea is a sophisticated, natural, healing herb. Through our Real High Tea Challenge we want to bring tea to a new generation.”

Culinary Judge, Chef Alan Palmer added that the Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge is the only international culinary competition to be held in Sri Lanka to date.

“Ceylon took tea to the world. A cup of tea is a glorious beverage. And as Dilhan intends to today, we will soon be serving Ceylon tea on a platter, something that I thought to be a dream. Dilmah tea had shaken the big world out there. Every effort, every investment placed behind Dilmah tea is with no personal interest, no personal gain, but for the countries gain and for the gain of the industry. Future generations will see that, they are reaping the benefits of what Dilmah did. “ Merrill J. Fernando, Founder of Dilmah stated at the award ceremony in addressing the gathering.

Buddika and Ishafahan will represent Sri Lanka, joining 21 National winners from around the world in competing for the accolade of the Finest 21st Century Real High Tea in the World.


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