Iconic tea maker Merrill J Fernando, founder of Dilmah, dies aged 93

"The visionary founder of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company’s greatness was in his invincible faith."
"The visionary founder of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company’s greatness was in his invincible faith." Photo credit: Twitter - @TheDilmahFamily

The "iconic" tea maker and founder of Sri Lankan tea company Dilmah died on Thursday surrounded by whānau in Colombo. 

In a Facebook post on Thursday evening, Dilmah Tea announced the death of Merrill J Fernando at the age of 93.

Fernando was surrounded by his sons and grandchildren when he died.

The 93-year-old founded Dilmah in 1988 and he became well-known for his "do try it" slogan.

Dilmah is now one of the world's largest tea brands and is also well-known in New Zealand.

"The visionary founder of Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company's greatness was in his invincible faith, his integrity and love for tea and family. With devotion and urgency he pursued his desire for integrity and quality with humility and kindness," said Dilmah Tea's Facebook post. 

"His achievement in disrupting an exploitative colonial industry irrevocably changed the lives of producers around the world introducing a paradigm shift in ethical business before ethics and sustainable business acquired the prominence they have now."

Fernando devoted his entire life to tea, working every day until he was 91 years old.

"The man who was once known as 'the Dedicated Founder' leaves two generations who share his conviction."

Fernando will lie at a local funeral parlour until his private burial on Saturday. 

"His generation will follow as he rests in the arms of his lord," said The Dilmah Family's Twitter page. 

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