Hugo Americi is travelling around Europe’s cities working out a scheme for his new business. At first thinking of a Café-Bar he changes his direction when, in Prague, he discovers the Teahouses of Dobra Cajovna with their blend of Bohemian lounge and Asian tea culture. He is converted instantly!
16 November 1998 - Hugo opens a small teahouse called Camellia Sinensis on Emery in Montréal. Fifty teas, cakes and a smooth ambiance. Two students from UQAM, Jasmin Desharnais and François Marchand entered the scene to make tea.
1999 - Shisha pipes and musical acts added to the atmosphere and the teahouse stayed open long into the night.
Automne 1999- Kevin Gascoyne pops in for a cuppa and presents his import company, specializing in Indian Teas, Kyela Teas.
2000 - Jasmin and François join Hugo as business partners. Having considered increasing the space in the now very popular teahouse, the new team’s evolving passion for tea steers them toward opening a tea store instead.
Autumn 2000 : Camellia Sinensis’ Tea School begin their first courses in the teahouse.
11 September 2001 : An unforgettable day for all North Americans with the disaster of the World Trade Centre. The same day Camellia Sinensis open their first tea store next door to the teahouse on Emery with a workshop nook and over one hundred teas for tea enthusiasts.
November 2001 : Hugo and Jasmin fly to Europe for a Tea Exhibition and to explore Europe’s famous teahouses. They meet with Mme Tseng of la Maison des Trois Thés with her rare and sophisticated single origin teas the visit has a strong influence on their approach to tea and tea service.
Spring 2002 : The Shisha water-pipes are all removed from the teahouse as tea and tasting begin to take priority over all else. The Tea School is now offering 6 three hour courses.
April 2003 : Hugo et Jasmin fly to China and Taiwan for their first visit to the tea gardens of Asia. They returned with their suitcases full of tea, literally ! New teas new knowledge and understanding, and connections with the producers.
February 2004 : Kevin Gascoyne joins the team as a fourth partner, taster, importer and specialist in Indian teas.
April 2004 : Hugo leaves for Taiwan, Jasmin for China they then meet in Japan for their first exploration there.
16 November 2004 : Camellia Sinensis de Québec opens its doors in the Quartier St-Roch in Québec, six years to the day after the teahouse opened in Montréal !
2005 : Exploration of Asia continues. Kevin, as always, back to India, followed by Jasmin to China and finally François and Hugo team up for Taiwan and Japan.
April 2006 : François travels to China to open up some new regions of this vast land.
September 2006 : The Marché Jean-Talon store opens its doors.
March 2007 : Kevin brings Jasmin to India then Kevin travels to China with Jasmin. Two completely different worlds !
2007 : The Teahouse in Montréal gets a full make-over. With influences from their travels and experiences, the owners re-design the place completely: beautiful woodwork, refined lines and a more stylish coherence while retaining the spirit of the place.
2007: The Pu er Cellar begins to take shape.
April 2008 : Hugo and Jasmin follow courses in Taiwan with a specialist in ageing wulongs and Pu er to optimize their wulong roasting and cellar techniques.
April 2009 : As each year, the four buyers set off for Asia. In addition to the usual regions (China, Japan, India, Taiwan), Kevin returns to Sri Lanka and Hugo begins to explore Vietnam.
September 2009 : Tea School of Québec opens in a new location.
November 2009 : First book is released in French: Thés, Histoire, Terroirs et Saveurs It wins first prize in the Canadian Culinary Awards for innovation, and in Paris for Gourmet’s World’s best tea book.
2011 : Emery’s store is renovated with a design by Jean-Pierre Viau.
March 2011 : Camellia Sinensis take a stand on upgrading the tea being served in restaurants with their line of pyramid bags.
September 2011 : Montréal’s Tea School move to its new location at 309 Emery.
January 2012 : Re-haul of the Tea School syllabus bringing the selection to 18 courses.
September 2012 : Tea School launches the 5 course series for Restaurant Professionals and Somelliers.
November 2012 : The Camellia Sinensis Team’s Second Book is released: Thé vert, art et culture from Éditions de l’homme.