The original concept of Camellia Sinensis, born in 1997, has evolved considerably since then. Here is our journey since our founding.
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.
January 2013: Our first book Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties is translated into Korean by the Korean Tea Sommelier Institiute.
March 2013: We begin work on our new packaging line for Autumn 2013
August 2013: Jasmin leaves for China with a film crew from Radio-Canada's 'La Semaine Verte' for a documentary on tea culture in China.
September 2013: Following the Korean translation a Russian publisher begin translating for the Russian market.
October 2013: The launsh of our new event 'miXtea'. For these 2 gastronomical evenings we pair up with Laurie-Raphael in Québec City and the S.A.T. in Montréal
November 2013: 15 Years! Thank you!
January 2014 Our new packaging, created in collaboration with the design team at Chez Valois, is launched.
May 2014 The Second Edition, English translation of Tea: History, Terroir, Varieties wins ‘World's Best Tea Book 2014' at the World Tea Awards.
July 2014 To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our Québec Store the entire space is gutted and redesigned with help from architect Pierre Bouvier.
October 2014 Three producers from Taiwan join us for our annual event 'miXtea /the Great Rendez-Vous’ Mr.Lin, Mme.Lin and Mr.Nen Yu share stories of their daily lives as producers and their work as judges in the Luku Competitions. Mr.Nen Yu, producer of both Dong Ding and Shan Lin Xi is presented a plaque for our ‘Award of Excellence’
December 2014: Our book Tea: History, Terroir, Varieties is translated into Russian.
Our teabags become available in individual envelopes.
We launch ESC | Tea Space, our corporate program for tea service.
New workshop Survolthé is launched for kids age 7 to 12.
The book Green Tea, the Quest for Fresh Leaf and Timeless Craft, is published in English.
Our first book, “Tea: history, terroir, varieties\", is translated in to Korean by the Tea Sommelier Institute of Korea.
Our tea house on Emery street gets a big facelift.
Kevin hosts the second edition of the World Tea Awards in Long Beach, California.
We buy our first pyramid tea bagging machine.
Our book,“Tea: history, terroir, varieties\", is translated again and available in Russian.
We are revise the catalogue in our tea stores in the hope of presenting a new take on tea tasting.
The Semaine Verte team of CBC joins Kevin in India to make a documentary on the life of a tea taster.
We win first prize for Best Tea Website at the Word Tea Awards in Las Vegas.
Camellia Sinensis and Gabriel Svaldi, former manager of the Montreal tea house for several years, launched Bristol Chai, the new 'chai bar' concept on Prince Arthur Street in Montreal. Freshly prepared chai, pastries and lunches are served daily.
At the World Tea Awards in Las Vegas, our blog is crowned “World’s Best Tea Blog” and our website wins again for ‘World Best Tea Trade Website'
Our tea house on Emery Street is cleaned up and renovated! We also installed a new tea bar that opens directly onto the street serving take-away: teas, chai, matcha, iced teas (sparkling or regular) and kombucha made with our teas by Lao Kombucha in Quebec City.
We launched a new teahouse menu with additional tea-based mocktails and new pairings with cheeses and chocolates.
"Thés et fromages" by Fabienne Effertz, a Camellia Sinensis collaboration, is released in North American (in French only).
Camellia Sinensis celebrates its 20th anniversary on November 16th!
Our international project with Indian and European partners, the Tea Studio, is born. The experimental factory in the Nilgiri Mountains in southern India produces its first batch of tea. The project is unique and has a social aspect: in addition to redistributing part of its income to infrastructures in the village where it is located, it is entirely led by a group of women.
In October, we invite two of our best Chinese producers, Mr. He (Huiming) and Mr. Tang (Long Jing Shi Feng) to the Tea Studio. They help the Indian team to improve the quality of the teas produced.
Our Tea School has undergone a redesign to simplify and unify the workshops offered. We also created the Tea Club, a series of monthly events focused on grand crus tastings.
At the World Tea Awards in Las Vegas, Camellia Sinensis wins the award for the best tea shop and the best ecommerce tea site.
- -The new website is finally launched after many moths of intense work.
- -The Tea Studio launch a selection of exclusive teas: a white tea, a roasted green tea and a maple tea.
- -After several years of planning we finally launch our Maple Tea. a blend of black tea from the Tea Studio and 100% pure maple crystals from St.Ferdinand.
- -Jasmin visits the tea gardens and factory of La Cumbre Bitaco in Colombia and advises their dynamic management team.
- -Kevin visits Bhutan’s only tea garden in an isolated Himalayan valley.
-Kevin host the second edition of the ‘Rare Tea Experience’ a guided tasting of rare teas in a specially created environment first held at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas in 2019. A magic evening of low-light and electronic soundtrack composed to match the essence teas tasted.
-The global pandemic changes all the travel plans of our tasters so they cannot head to Asia to select and buy the teas at source for the first time since 2003.
-The teahouse on Emery St. closes after serving clients for 22 years.
-The Camellia Sinensis team show exceptional resilience during the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic.