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Ceylon tea

Introduction to Ceylon Tea

Sri Lankan tea is popular all over the world as Ceylon tea since the time when Sri Lanka was a British colony. Sri Lanka is the largest producer of orthodox tea and the fourth-largest tea producer in the world. Sri Lanka is the third largest tea export and ISO 3720 is the minimum standard for Ceylon tea.

Good agriculture practices and good manufacturing practices are used to produce Ceylon tea. Therefore you can high quality Ceylon tea with confidence. Tea processing factories for export are continuously upgraded and maintained in accordance with technical and sanitary standards to meet the international food safety requirements.

The Lion Logo belongs to Sri Lanka Tea Board and it is a globally established trademark for tea. Sri Lanka Tea Board issues the lion logo to tea produce after completing legal requirements and quality inspection of tea. If there is a lion logo on a tea pack, it is a guarantee for 100% Pure Ceylon Tea from Sri Lanka.

Lion Logo

History of Ceylon Tea

Tea Cultivation and manufacturing began in the past when Sri Lanka was a British colony. At that time the British called Sri Lanka as Ceylon. That is why the tea brought from Sri Lanka to the world was called Ceylon Tea. Ceylon tea is still the most popular tea in the world.

The story of Ceylon tea begins with the end of coffee cultivation. Mr. Barnes, then Governor of Sri Lanka at that time, officially sponsored large-scale coffee cultivation. Most coffee cultivation ware in the central hill country. Therefore He developed the road network in Sri Lanka to bring domestic production to the coffee market in England.  

In the 1870s coffee cultivation was begun to decline due to a fungal disease known as “coffee blight” or “coffee leaf disease”. Coffee planters tried to grow cocoa and cinchona as alternative crops. But it also failed due to that coffee fungal disease.

The remaining coffee planters turned their attention to tea cultivation. In 1824, The British brought the tea plant from China to Ceylon. It was planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya as an experiment. Since then, tea plants have been brought to Ceylon from India several times and planted for experimental purposes.

In 1867, James Taylor officially started the tea industry in Ceylon. The first tea estate was Loolecondera estate in Kandy. Mr. James Taylor was seventeen years old when he started the tea industry in Sri Lanka.  The first tea plantation was 19 acres, and in 1872 James Taylor ran the first fully completed tea factory. For the first time, 23 pounds (10 Kg) of Ceylon tea was shipped to London. With this tea cultivation of tea in Sri Lanka began to become established. Tea production in Sri Lanka increased rapidly in the 1880s and by 1888 the area of tea cultivation was greater than the coffee cultivation.

In 1815 the Planters Association was established. In 1915, Mr. Thomas Amarasuriya was appointed as the first Sri Lankan Chairman of the Planters’ Association. Auction tea sales increased with the growing popularity of the Ceylon Tea, and The first public Colombo Auction for tea was held on the premises of  Somerville and Company Limited on 30 July 1883.

Tea Research Institute was established in 1925 to enrich the tea industry through professional research findings. Tea Research Institute was initially established in Nuwara Eliya and it was relocated to the St. Coombs Estate in Talawakelle, in December 1929.

old photos of ceylon tea
Old Ceylon Tea Images

Tea Growing Regions in Ceylon

There are three main tea-growing regions in Sri Lanka as Up-country, Mid-country, and Low-country. This classification is based on altitude. Tea grown at altitudes of up to 600m above sea level is known as low-grown tea. Tea grown at altitude from 600m to 1200m is known as Mid-grown tea and tea grown above 1200m is called High-grown.

The taste, aroma, and flavor of tea are unique to each elevation. Therefore the demand for tea varies depending on the tea-growing region. Sri Lanka is being exposed to two weather systems in the Indian Ocean. As a result, there is a change of rainfall on both sides of the mountain of Up-Country. Therefore, it makes a significant difference in the quality of tea which is called “Quality Season”. This cannot be expected to happen annually.

Seven Regions of Ceylon Teas

There are seven subdivisions according to the local climatic variation in the above three main tea-growing regions separated by elevation. Tea produced in those regions has unique characteristics. Therefore, based on these characteristics, there is a huge demand for Ceylon tea in the world tea market. Seven regions are as follows.

  • Nuwara Eliya
  • Dimbula
  • Uva
  • Uda Pussellawa
  • Kandy
  • Ruhuna
  • Sabaragamuwa
Tea growing region in Sri Lanka map
Seven Regions of Ceylon Tea

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is the most well-known tea-growing district in Sri Lanka with the highest average elevation. Nuwara Eliya tea has two ‘quality seasons’, the eastern and the western. The tea produced in Nuwara Eliya has a rarefied and refined quality that easily compared to the lower-grown varieties. Nuwara Eliya tea is in high demand in the world tea market.

Dimbula

Dimbula
Dimbula

Dimbula region teas are known as ‘high-grown’, the elevation of Dimbula region is between 1,100m and 1,600m. This region is covered with mist and wets for much of the year. However, Dimbula region tea produces a fine golden-orange hue in the teacup and gives freshness feeling in the mouth after the tea is drunk.

Uva

Uva

Uva Province is the most remote province in Sri Lanka. The capital city of uva is Badulla. There is a unique character in Uva tea that is known all over the world. In Uva season time, Uva region tea contains a slightly mentholated character, relatively different from the tea produced at any other time of year.

Uda Pussellawa

Uda Pussellawa
Uda Pussellawa

The Uda Pussellawa region tea coming from the sub-districts of Maturata, Ragala, and Halgranoya. Uda Pussellawa has enjoyed climatic conditions which are very different from the western plantation regions. Uda Pussellawa region is somewhat lower than the Nuwara Eliya region. Uda Pussellawa tea appears somewhat darker in the cup, with a pinkish hue and a hint of good strength feels to the mouth.

Kandy

Kandy

Kandy region is known as ‘mid-grown’. The elevation of tea cultivating ranges between 650m and 1,300m. The teas Tea produce in the Kandy region are said to be mainly flavorsome and, their strength is inversely proportional to the elevation at which they are growing region. Kandy region teas are produced a relatively bright infusion with a coppery color. 

Ruhuna

Ruhuna
Ruhuna

Ruhuna teas are known as ‘low-grown’. The tea estates of the Ruhuna region are at altitudes between sea level and 600m. Tea in Ruhuna region has unique characteristics compared to other regions. The soil of Ruhuna region belongs to the low elevation, which causes the tea plant to grow rapidly.

Sabaragamuwa

Sabaragamuwa

Sabaragamuwa is famous for gems in Sri Lanka. Sabaragamuwa region is known as ‘low-grown’ like the Ruhuna region.  Its tea estates range in elevation from sea level to around 800m. Sabaragamuwa tea shows a little more variation in characters than other predominantly low-grown districts. The liquor is similar to Ruhuna teas.


The Main Type of Tea Manufacturing in Sri Lanka

The leave of the tea plant are used for the production of tea and there are several tea manufacturing types in the world. Below are some of the main manufacturing methods to make tea in Sri Lanka.

Orthodox Tea

This is a traditional tea manufacturing method and where tea is made using an orthodox tea roller and this method produces black tea. The most popular orthodox tea is coming from Ceylon. In addition to the orthodox roller, there are some places where the rotovane roller machine is used.

CTC Tea

The meaning of CTC is cut, tear and curl.  In CTC type processing, the withered leaf is pre-conditioned by using the orthodox roller and passed through one rotovane and then through one or more sets of CTC cuter. In this method, the color and strength of the tea are relatively higher than other methods.

Green Tea

Green tea is a tea that has not undergone a fermentation process during the manufacturing process. So the final product remains green in color. The fermentation process is inhibited by giving pre-heat. So there are two main methods to make green tea.  Those two methods are panning and steaming.

Oolong Tea

This manufacturing method exists between black tea and green tea. Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea. According to this method in Sri Lanka, only a small amount of tea is produced.

Why Ceylon Tea

Tea cultivation and manufacturing ware started in Ceylon when Sri Lanka was a colony of the British. Therefore, tea production in Sri Lanka has a long history and in 1965, Sri Lanka became the largest tea exporter in the world. The tea industry has a major impact on the Sri Lankan economy, therefore the Sri Lankan government and related institutes are taking necessary action to ensure the quality of tea production.

Good agriculture practices and good manufacturing practices are used to produce Ceylon tea and ISO 3720 is the minimum standard for Ceylon tea. Therefore you do not need to create distrust about a packet of tea with the lion logo issued by the Sri Lanka Tea Board.

If you are interested in buying Ceylon tea, Please contact us. We will connect you with the matching supplier.

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