History Of Ceylon Tea
In 1824 a tea plant was brought to Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) by the British from China and was planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya for non-commercial purposes. In 1839 the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was established followed by the Planters’ Association of Ceylon in 1854.
In 1894 the Ceylon Tea Traders Association was formed and even today virtually all tea produced in Sri Lanka is conducted through this association as well as the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. In 1896 the Colombo Brokers’ Association was formed. Then in 1915, Mr Thomas Amarasuriya became the first Ceylonese to be appointed as Chairman of the Planters’ Association.
James Taylor, a Scotsman, played a significant role in the development of Ceylon Tea.
A perfectionist by nature, Taylor experimented with tea cultivation and leaf manipulation in order to obtain the best possible flavour from the tea leaves. Taylor’s methods were emulated by other planters and soon, Ceylon Tea was being favourably received by buyers in London, proving that tea could be a profitable plantation crop.
Sri Lanka generates tea throughout the year, and the cultivating areas are mainly concentra-ted in the central highlands and southern inland areas of the island. The tea sector in Sri Lanka has always been a vital constituent of the economy and is also the country’s largest employer providing employment both directly and indirectly to over one million people. This in turn has cast Sri Lanka as the 3rd biggest tea producing country globally.
Tea Growing Regions
Uva, on the eastern slopes of the central mountains of Sri Lanka, produces teas with a distinctive mellow flavor whose reputation stretches worldwide. Grown 915 M – 1500 (3000 to 5000 feet) up on the eastern slopes of Sri Lanka’s central mountains, the best Uva Tea is plucked between June and September. The dry wind that blows towards Uva during this period gives Uva Tea a copper colored infusion with a very smooth, pronounced taste and wonderful aroma.
The Kandy tea-growing district forms part of the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Its capital nestles in a relatively low-lying valley. They are not as high up as those in the southern part of the central massif, so the tea of the Kandy region is described as ‘mid-grown’, the altitude of cultivation ranging between 650m and 1,300m (2,000feet – 4,000feet). These are notable for full bodied strong tea, which appeal to everyone who likes a good thick colory brew.
Probably the best-known of Sri Lanka’s tea-growing districts, NuwaraEliya is also the most rugged and mountainous, with the highest average elevation. The town from which the district takes its name sits perched on a plateau 1,900 m (6,200 feet) above sea level, under the shadow of Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, Pidurutalagala. The exquisite liquor that is smooth and bright, brewed light and offers a refreshing difference with its delicate aroma.
Dimbula was one of the first areas to be planted with tea when it replaced coffee during the 1870s. Dimbula tea, undoubtedly the most well-known name associated with Ceylon tea, is what we make on our estates situated at elevations of 1,100 to 1,500 meters (3600 ft – 4900ft) above sea level. The monsoon rains and the cold-dry weather of the western slopes of the mountains help produce a range of teas, Some teas are full-bodied, while others are delicate, but most are mellow in flavor.
Wedged between the Kandy and Uva districts on the eastern slopes of the hill country, UdaPussellawa is a small, thinly-populated district almost entirely dedicated to tea cultivation. It boasts no large towns, and part of its uncultivated area is occupied by the Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve, which rises up the peak of the same name to a height of around 2000m (6,400ft). The tea grown on the UdaPussellawa mountain range is of medium body with majestic flavor.
The Ruhuna Region is located 650 M (2000 feet) above sea level on the southern part of Sri Lanka. The tea-growing terrain, coastal plain with low hills towards the interior, lies mostly in the western part of the province, within the ‘wet zone’ watered by the southwest monsoon. Owing to the somewhat warm climate and fertile soil containing many minerals, the tea produced in this area is black in colour, which adds strength and character in the cup. Ruhuna tea is famed for its attractive appearance and special taste. Often regarded as a premium tea,