TeaTrends is the leading source of unbiased news and analysis for the specialty tea industry. Sing up for our free weekly newsletter today! . Merril J. Fernando, the founder of Dilmah Tea and one of the most influential figures in the history of tea in Sri Lanka .Notes  Leslie was not allowed to go to school until he was 10, because he was needed to help on the farm while his sisters went to school. When he did enroll in 1909, his family had just purchased land in Volga. His father, Albert bought 100 acres from H.E. Knox .