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Camellia Sinensis Turns 20: Looking Back

11 November 2018

Capture d’écran 2018-11-15 à 14.49.27

November 16, 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of Camellia Sinensis. Some of you may have been following our “retrospective” photo album on Facebook that follows the great evolution from our humble beginnings – both in decor and haircuts!

An Asian approach to tea…in Montreal!

Hugo Américi opened the first Camellia Sinensis tea room in 1998 on Emery street in Montreal. Having thought to open a coffee-bar, he dropped the idea in favour of a teahouse. The concept would be focused on an Asian approach to tea. He had been impressed by a similar concept the previous year in Prague at the Dobra Cajovna teahouses and was fascinated by the ambiance. At first, Camellia Sinensis offered customers a variety of fifty teas along with a few cakes, all served in a relaxed atmosphere.

Curious to know more about our history? Read more.

A passionate and complimentary team

That same year, two students from the local university arrived on the scene, Jasmin Desharnais and François Marchand both started waiting tables and quickly ended up becoming co-owners of the company. As Camellia flourished and grew, a fourth player entered the fold, Kevin Gascoyne, who had his own tea company, Kyela Teas, focussed on the teas of Darjeeling in India. The four began to take on specific roles within the company. At home Jasmin took charge of HR and Operations he also focussed on the teas of Western and Eastern China. Francois becomes responsible for marketing, content and IT while focusing as a taster on Central China. Kevin handles international conferences, deals with HR in Montreal and uses his experience of India to oversee the Tea Studio. He buys all the Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and African teas. Finally, Hugo oversees the global vision of the company, handles the administration, distribution and acts as taster buyer in both Japan and Taiwan. They find it advantageous to have their own networks abroad for buying while running the company at home.

The enthusiastic energy of the group fuelled them to open stores and tea houses in Montreal and Quebec city, publish various books, open a Tea School, open the first Chai bar in the province as well as launch an experimental factory in India (Tea Studio).

Did you know that:

  • Camellia Sinensis was almost called “The smoking teapot”;
  • For the first 5 years, most clients came to the store for the hookahs (water pipes used to smoke Egyptian flavoured tobacco) now long gone.
  • At first, Camellia Sinensis was a Teahouse. It was following a month long vacation that Hugo came back with the idea of opening a store
  • Camellia Sinensis has two Tea Schools, both in Montreal and Quebec
  • The company now employs over 50 loyal employees in the stores, salons, warehouse and in the offices
  • Camellia Sinensis offers an ever changing selection of well over 200 teas.
  • There are close to 500 restaurants worldwide that offers our teas. Some with Michelin stars!
  • Our tea workshops have been attended by over 10 000 tea lovers
  • Over the last 20 years, our four tasters have tasted tens of thousands of tea samples
  • The Montreal teahouse has served over 700 000 clients since its opening
  • We receive close to 32 tons of directly imported teas each year

Are you a new tea enthousiast? Discover our tea taster kits, a great way to discovering your preferences.

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