With dedication to tea since 1879
In 2024, Hälssen & Lyon celebrates its 145th anniversary. Another milestone in a long-running success story of the international tea business.
It all began in January 1879, when Alfred Moritz Lyon and Gustav Vincent Hälssen founded their joint tea trading company and a few years later became the first tenants to move into the visionary new Speicherstadt district, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a short time, the company passed into the hands of a Hamburg merchant family named Ellerbrock, the 4th generation of which now own the company.
The venerable brick building at Pickhuben 9 remains our headquarters to this day. It has been a long time since barges tied up here and tea was blended on its floors, but the brick walls still breathe this history. From the outset, its proximity to the port guaranteed a direct link to the international trading world. The decades since the company’s founding have accordingly been dominated by investment and steady growth at home and abroad.
On 1 January 1879, Alfred Moritz Lyon and Gustav Vincent Hälssen found the tea trading company Hälssen & Lyon in Hamburg. Gustav Vincent Hälssen dies in a tragic accident that year.
H&L moves into the new building at Pickhuben 9. Today, the company is the longest-standing tenant in Hamburg’s historical Speicherstadt warehouse district.
Johann Carl Ferdinand Ellerbrock, who joined the company in 1895, becomes a partner.
Following the death of Alfred Moritz Lyon, J. C. F. Ellerbrock becomes the sole proprietor of the company.
J. C. F. Ellerbrock co-founds the German Tea Association.
Carl Ellerbrock, son of J. C. F. Ellerbrock, joins the company.
On 1 March, Carl Ellerbrock founds the subsidiary Hälssen & Lyon Ltd., London, which develops into Britain’s second-largest tea exporter over the next twelve years.
H&L expands: Bases are added in Calcutta, Cochin and Colombo.
The KVW (Kaffee-Veredelungs-Werk) coffee decaffeination plant is founded in Hamburg.
On 1 January, Carl Ellerbrock becomes a partner of H&L.
Founding of Dr. Grethe’s Decaffeinated Tea company in Hamburg – and launch of the world’s first decaffeinated tea.
Foundation of Haelssen Tea Sales Ltd., London.
Acquisition of the French Tea packing company Compagnie Coloniale S.A., Paris.
Acquisition of stake in world’s largest infusion company and 2nd largest tea packer, Thé de l’Eléphant S.A., Marseille. Founding of world’s 1st instant tea factory in tea-producing country (Sri Lanka) and worldwide premiere of innovative instant tea.
H&L accelerates the development of flavoured teas and makes them popular.
Olav C. and Horst-Jürgen Ellerbrock buy H&L from their father, Carl Ellerbrock.
Acquisition of DTI (Deutsche Trockenfruchtindustrie GmbH) which produces instant beverages in Hamburg. Development of tea-lemon tea drinks, liquid or as granules.
Olav C. Ellerbrock is appointed Honorary Consul General of Sri Lanka. He becomes Chairman of the German Tea Association until 1998, is Board member of ITC (International Tea Committee, London), and Chairman of ETC (European Tea Committee).
Growing demand for decaffeinated tea leads to the formation of a joint venture with Haco AG, Gümligen, Switzerland.
Membership in the US Tea Association. Introduction of decaffeinated tea in America.
H&L introduces flavoured, freeze-dried teas to the market.
Development of the CO2 high-pressure process for the decaffeination of tea.
Entry into the rapidly growing market for fruit and herbal teas.
H&L is granted the organic certificate in accordance with Directive (EEC) No. 2092/91, authorising the company to market organically grown tea.
Acquisition of tea packer Schmidt & Partner GmbH.
H&L builds high-rack warehouse in Hamburg-Allermöhe. A total of 40,000 pallet ports where over 15,000 tons of tea are stored: the world’s largest warehouse for tea specialities. State-of-the-art machinery for processing tea is installed there.
Implementation and certification of a quality management system in accordance with DIN ISO 9001.
Certification of operations in accordance with the HACCP concept (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point).
Founding of KVT-Nahrungsmittel GmbH in Thuringia for the production of fruit and herb infusions.
Start of full-scale production of herb and fruit teas.
Product safety is increased by strict quality controls and the establishment of a quality assurance laboratory. Implementation of the IFS (International Featured Standard Food).
Haelssen & Lyon North America Corp. Is established to optimise customer service in the US.
Opening of a branch office in Moscow.
Partnership with the extract producer Natural Instant Food S.A., Paraguay.
Founding of tbottlers GmbH for the bottling and production of beverages and syrups.
Opening of the latest warehouse, which increases storage capacity to 25,000 tons of merchandise.
Shareholding in a packaging company for premium teas, Gourmet Tea DMCC, Dubai.
Highly complex quality assurance processes are further enhanced with the latest camera technology and software for colour selection, as well as an expansion of the raw material cleaning systems.
The company continues to grow. Old floors in the historic main building are converted into contemporary new offices.
Hälssen & Lyon celebrates its 145th anniversary.
The successful tea story continues ...