Dammann Frères: a true tea institution from France
Dammann Frères is one of the oldest brands of tea in France. For centuries, this unassuming company has never stopped moving forward, driven by the passion of one family whose tea expertise has been passed down for three generations. Dammann Frères has become a tea institution with a reputation for excellence all around the world. We are about to tell you about the story of a family passionate about tea and the art of tea tasting.
The oldest brand of tea in France
In 1692, Dammann becomes the first company to sell tea in France, thanks to a royal order given by King Louis XIV. For years and years, the company searches the world over for the finest teas. In 1825, Dammann Frères create the first tea trading counter in Java. The company keeps on blossoming with brothers Robert and Pierre Dammann in charge. Fast forward to 1949 when Jean Jumeau-Lafond, a real tea enthusiast, joins Dammann as company director alongside Robert Dammann, a necessary step for the Dammann family since there was no heir to keep the legacy going. Under Mr Jumeau-Lafond, Dammann Frères focuses exclusively on tea, tea blends and herbal tea.
Audacity and creativity
Jean Jumeau-Lafond dedicates his time to sourcing teas from the world’s finest tea gardens to create his own tea blends, his real passion in life! At the time, without a shop to market his products, he travels all over France to sell his premium loose leaf teas to delicatessens. He becomes the first person in the industry to package his loose leaf tea in special metal tins and to sell by the weight, in the style of traditional spice merchants.
In 1954, he creates the first modern flavoured tea after watching his Russian wife put a slice of orange into her cup of Earl Grey. Mr Jumeau-Lafond then decides to dry tea leaves between two sheets of school blotting paper (borrowed from his son), previously soaked in orange essential oil from Grasse. And so Dammann’s ‘Goût Russe Douchka’ tea was born! This original creation, a defining moment in the history of tea in France, would go on to form the basis of the company’s success. Its collections of flavoured teas have gone from strength to strength over the years, and their popularity with the general public has helped to establish the brand as one of the most admired tea specialists around.
A taste for invention
In 1980, Jean Jumeau-Lafond hands over control of the company to his two sons. Jacques is in charge of managing the business while Didier looks after product development, including working alongside some of the world’s finest chefs.
During a visit in Japan, Didier meets Dr. Sano, a manufacturer who has just finished developing a machine for packaging coffee in sachets. Inspired by the idea, Didier and Jacques launch a brand new type of tea bag: the Cristal© sachets. With its high quality transparent fabric, the Cristal® teabag allows tea drinkers to see the tea leaves and the elements of the blends while enjoying a better tasting cup of tea: a feast for the eyes and the palate! In the blink of an eye, Dammann Frères has revolutionised the world of tea-making!
The third generation
In 2007, Didier embarks on the latest chapter of the Dammann Frères tea adventure alongside daughter Flora, nephew Emmanuel (son of Jacques) and the Italian coffee brand Illy (one of the biggest names in the caffeine industry). Together, they raise the public profile of the brand, previously almost exclusively known by tea connoisseurs. As incredible as it may seem, at the time, Dammann Frères – whose teas are sold mainly at fine delicatessens, high-end restaurants and major hotels – still don’t have their own retail premises!
But that all changes in 2008, when Dammann Frères open their very first boutique on the prestigious Place des Vosges in Paris (a square that would go on to lend its name to one of their teas). The success is such that other outlets soon opens in other parts of Paris and in Japan. The latter marks the beginning of an international adventure that has so far been taken to 62 countries worldwide.
Masters of tea blends
Since 2011, the Dammann Frères HQ has been based in Dreux (in the Eure-et-Loire department, France) and these days, the brand is France’s biggest tea company.
It is also one of the last businesses to continue to oversee every facet of the production process: from the acquisition of the tea leaves (directly from farmers with whom they have forged close relationships over the years) to the composition of the blends by a specialist, to the packaging (tins, tea sachets, dispensing boxes for professionals…) and finally, the distribution of the final product to destinations around France and throughout the world.
As rightful heir to the Dammann Frères dynasty, Emmanuel Jumeau-Lafond spends his days tirelessly seeking out the natural ingredients that will go into the tea blends of tomorrow. He is the in-house tea blender, the flavours magician at Dammann Frères!
Every year, Dammann Frères creates around ten new types of flavoured teas to add to its 400-strong collection. Alongside bestsellers such as Grand Goût Russe, Christmas Tea and Jardin Bleu, other beautiful aromatic blends like Bali and Miss Dammann have proven to be a huge hit worldwide. Unique, delicate and harmoniou tea creations that have become the signature of a company whose expertise has been passed down through generations, and whose passion for tea continues to inspire enthusiasm and creativity.
Dammann Frères: the numbers
- 190 members of staff
- 30,000 m2 of production space in Dreux
- 14 boutiques in France
- 62 countries selling Dammann Frères tea around the world
- 1,000 tons of tea produced every year
- 400 teas and tea blends
- 120 million Cristal® sachets
During our visit to the Damman Frères factory, we were lucky to get a sneak preview of their up-and-coming products.
Watch this space for some delicious new blends, available as soon as we get them on MaxiCoffee!
With each person we met, we could really sense the passion that drives the team at Dammann Frères. This interesting and enriching visit gave us the chance to immerse ourselves in their universe and to experience first hand an atmosphere that is both creative and highly controlled (for health and safety reasons).
As we’re writing these words, we can still smell the delightful and intoxicating scents of teas and flavours that accompanied us throughout our day at Damman Frères!