Our history

The original concept of Camellia Sinensis, born in 1997, has evolved considerably since then. Here is our journey since our founding.

1997

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! 

1998

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

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

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.

2001

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.

2002

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.

2003

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.

2004

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

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.

2006

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. 

2007

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.

2008

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.

2009

 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

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. 

2012

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.

2013

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!

2014

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. 

2015

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.

2016

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.

2017

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).

2018

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.

2019

  • -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.

2020

-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.

2021

In collaboration with the design studio Caserne, the visual of the wholesale packaging is rebranded.  The objectives being to reduce the materials used and to increase the visibility while retaining the quality of the information on the packaging.

Camellia Sinensis are awarded two 'Dux' awards for ‘Eco-Packaging Initiative-Content and Packaging’ and ‘People’s Choice- Eco-packaging Initiative’, for reducing the materials in the packaging by 50%

Addition of an eco-responsible transport to our delivery options, using bicycles and electric vehicles around Montréal.

Installation of a line of Matcha packaging machines to reduce the use of stickers.

The legendary Emery st. teahouse officially closes.  A yard sale is organised so that regular clients that have been visiting since the door opened back in 1998, can pick up a souvenir from this famous venue.  The line up at the door, that chilly morning, is well over 200m long!

2022

Renovation of our Emery store.  The teahouse and the store are merged together into one big room that integrates a space for comparative tastings and workshops.  

The Tea School program is revised an restructured. The new workshop format offers a more relaxed and sensorial experience.

The Quebec Tea School is renovated with a stylish and more functional design.

2023

Camellia Sinensis celebrates 25 years!

Travel to Asia to source tea starts again!  For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Kevin flies to India to select the First Flush Darjeelings.

The Tea Studio goes solar.  On a sunny day, our panels generate enough power for all our electrical equipment.

The warehouse moves to a new facility, allowing a more adapted workflow and room to expanded.

As part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations, Camellia Sinenis and Chocolat Dicitte join forces to create a chocolate bar with Shui Xian Lao Cong, Chinese wulong.  They name it ‘Lady Camellia’.

In another partnership they launch a project with Dunham brewery to crate a beer with Mi Lan Xiang Feng Xi, another Chinese wulong.  They name it ‘Lord Sinensis’.