Ceylon tea: Sri Lanka in a cup

Ceylon tea is one of the major products found in Sri Lanka. It plays an important role in the economy of Sri Lanka and also in world market. Before moving on to its history, you can have a look at what exactly it is. It is a form of black tea that is grown in Sri Lanka. It is golden in color and has a flavor that almost every person appreciates who has tasted it. The tea is also used in tea blends and is found in almost every part of the country.

  History - It was the year 1824 when British thought of starting tea plantation in Ceylon and thus brought a plant from China. The thought of growing tea came into their minds when the coffee plants were ruined to the spread of a virus called Hemileia vastatrix fungus. Peradeniya was the place where first tea plant was first planted. But till then it was grown for experimental purposes only and not for any commercial purposes. To perform more experiments with tea plants and thus achieve better results, tea plants were brought into Ceylon from different places in India. This effort made by the British was successful and the trend followed for many years.

Since then many major events took place in the history that are as follows:

  • Firstly in year 1839 an organization was set up for dealing with issues related to plantation of tea.
  • Following it, in the year 1854 Planters’ Association was established in Ceylon.
  • In year 1867, in Loolecondera (Kandy) a plant was set up and the year was marked as birth of tea industry in Ceylon by James Taylor.
  • In 1872, a tea factory was established in the same estate Kandy and first sale of tea was made in the same year.
  • In 1873, they imported 23 lb of tea to London as their first shipment

Since then there was no looking back for them and they kept on growing larger. The tea plantation was initially started on just 19 acres of land but soon it became the largest tea producing country in the world. After 1873 many new tea plantations were established. The major amongst them were Rookwood, Hope and Mooloya and Le Vallon and Stellenberg.

A person known as Henry arrived at Ceylon in year 1880 and is known as one of the founders of tea plants. On his arrival he bought some coffee plantation plants and by the year 1883 started converting them into tea plantations.

Following this many technological developments made the commercial production of tea possible. The major contributions in this area were:

• Samuel C. Davidson in year 1877 invented a machine used for drying tea.
• First Teal Rolling Machine in 1880 with the efforts of John Walker and Co
• Construction of Central Tea Factory at Fairy Land Estate in Pedro in the year 1884.

After this there were many achievements that were made in the history. For instance, in 1893 unbelievably large numbers of tea packets were sold in a fair held at Chicago.

Current Tea Growing Areas

The major areas used for growing tea are
• Haputale, Badulla, and Bandarawella in Uva Province.
• Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in Central Province
• Ratnapura and Kegalle in Sabaragamuwa Province.
• Matara, Galle, and Mulkirigala in Southern Province.

Then the few principal regions where tea is grown are
1. Nuwara Eliya: it is basically a plateau of oval shape at a height of 6240 feet.
2. Dimbula: it is one of the areas used initially for tea plantation. It has been in use since 1870’s. This area is at a height of 3500 feet to 5000 feet. The tea grown in this area has a great flavor due to environmental conditions like monsoon rain and cold weather from January to March.
3. Uva Province: the tea grown in this area has a flavor distinct from others and is mainly used in tea blends. Plantations here are found at an elevation of 3500 feet to 5000 feet.
4. Kandy: this area is known for mid-grown tea. This is one amongst of those areas that were used for tea plantations in the earlier times. it is at a height of 2000 feet to 4000 feet.

How to reach there?

There are different railway lines that connect Sri Lanka to other countries and people can easily move to Sri Lanka from other places. The main railway line was constructed between Colombo and Ambepussa. The train was primarily used for transporting tea to other countries. But now many of them are used for passengers as well. Other popular lines in the area include the Matale Line, the Coast line, the Mannar line and lots more.

Purchasing Ceylon Tea

When you are purchasing tea exclusively from Sri Lanka then make sure it contains the Lion Logo in it. The presence of Lion Logo confirms that it was produced in Sri Lanka and is of superior quality. A quotation is also present with the logo that says ”pure Ceylon Tea- Packed in Sri Lanka”.

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