Ceylon Tea (Introduction)
Sri Lanka is one of the most famous countries to produce tea and is one of the most fabulously enjoyed beverages in Sri Lanka. Tea for us is literally second to water, every single person in our Nation enjoys at least three cups a day, and that is just minimally. Every occasion is celebrated with a cup of tea, and we would not substitute it for anything else. Its the poor mans' drink of choice and the rich mans' as well. There is something about the wonderful beverage that leaves you wanting for more. The unique tastes and the impeccable aromas of Ceylon Tea is what makes it famous around the globe.
Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) was introduced to Tea in the 1800's by James Taylor, he began a tea plantation in Kandy and started manufacturing tea. He made his first sale in kandy and thus began the growth of the tea industry in Sri Lanka.
The ideal climatic conditions play a major role in the success of the growth of tea in Sri Lanka. 4% of the country's land is covered by tea plantations. The main tea growing areas are Nuwera Eliya, Kandy, Central Province, , Bandarawela, Haputale, Uva Province, Galle, Matara, Southern Province, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Sabaragamuwa Province. The best tea are gathered from late June to the end of August in the eastern districts and fron the beginning of February to mid March in western districts.
Skilfully plucking the tea leaf is essential to the final quality of the tea, the two leaves and a bud, that is where the flavor and the aroma of tea is present, and this is plucked by women. Sri Lanka id one of the few countries that each leaf is plucked by hand instead of machinery, if they were to use machinery some of the coarse leaves as twigs would be mixed with the proper leaves which could destroy the flavor of the tea. The skillful women pluck around 15 to 20 kilos of tea leaves to be weighed and sent to the nearby tea factories.
Ceylon Black Tea is the most famously known tea around the globe. The high-grown black tea has a honey golden liquor and light and is among the best teas which has a distinct flavor, aroma and strength. The low-grown teas has a burgundy brown liquor and stronger in taste. And the mid-grown teas are strong, rich and full-bodied. Ceylon black tea is famous around the world and is used as the base for many blends such as Earl Grey tea, and many other fruit flavored teas.
Black tea is not the only tea produced, Ceylon green tea is mainly grown in Idalgashinna in the Uva Province. The Ceylon Green Tea generally has a fuller body, and has a pungent, malty and nutty flavor. Green tea in Sri Lanka has its own characteristics, they are darker in both the dry and infused leaf, and has a rich flavor different from other green teas. Much of the green teas produced in Sri Lanka has an acquired taste and are exported to the North African and the Middle Eastern markets. Other than the Black and the Green tea Sri Lanka specializes in White Tea which is also known as 'silver tips'. This is one of the priciest teas in Sri Lanka, price of a kilo of White Tea in higher than that of Green and Black tea. White Tea was first grown in Nuwera-Eliya. The tea is grown, harvested and rolled by hand and the leaves are dried and withered in the sun. it has a delicate and light liquoring and contains notes of pine and honey and a golden coppery infusion.
Sri Lankan tea is a great success in the international markets, and despite the ever growing competition from India and China, Sri Lanka remains one of the world's top tea exporters. The most important international markets of Sri Lankan tea are the Middle East, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, the UK and Japan.
The 'Lion Logo' in the packages of the tea produced in Sri Lanka is an important factor. It is closely monitored by the Sri Lankan Tea board and if a manufacturer is to acquire this particular logo, they need to go through a series of inspections that are done by the Sri Lankan Tea Board and if they pass these inspections they are allowed to use the Lion Logo which depicts as 'Pure Ceylon Tea- Packed in Sri Lanka'.
Ceylon Tea is indeed exquisitely famous for its rich tastes and aromas, and it is made with a lot of care and love, so that everybody around the globe has the privilege of tasting such a wonderful beverage.
History of Ceylon Tea
Tea has a rich and fascinating history. For hundreds of years people consumed tea for its medicinal qualities. More and more tea plats were discovered and tea drinking became more popular. All this paved the way to tea becoming one of the most sort after beverages around the globe.
Sri Lanka was introduced to tea much later. Until the 1860's the main crop produced in Sri Lanka was Coffee but in 1869 a fungus destroyed the crop so the estate owners had to diversify into other crops. Firstly a tea plant was brought to Sri Lanka from China and was planted in the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, this was planted for non-commercial purposes. In 1867 James Taylor planted 19 acres of tea in the Loolecondera estate in Kandy, and there in on tea became a commercially used crop in Sri Lanka. In 1872, James Taylor started a fully equipped tea factory in the same estate and in the same year he made the first sale of tea in Kandy. In 1873 the first international sale of tea was made, a shipment consisting of 23lb's of tea was sent to an auction in London.
The production of tea rose rapidly in 1880's and by 1899 the area cultivated had exceedingly grown to nearly 400,000 acres of tea. By that time British figures such as Henry Randolph Trafford arrived in Sri Lanka and purchased coffee estates, his knowledge about coffee was limited but his knowledge about to tea was vast and he is now considered on of the pioneers in tea plantation in Sri Lanka.
The rapid growth and popularity of tea, lead to it being sold at several auctions. The first public auction of tea was held at Somerville & Co in July 1883. and then went on to being sold at auctions held worldwide, a total sum of one million tea packets were sold in the Chicago World Fair in 1893. The Ceylon Tea Traders association was formed in 1894 and today all tea produced in Sri Lanka is conducted by this association along with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Later in 1896 the Colombo Broker's Association was formed and in 1915 the first Ceylonese was appointed as the Chairman of the Planter's Association, his name was Thomas Amarasuriya. By 1927 the production if tea in the country exceeded 100,00o metric tonnes which was almost entirely for export purposes.
By the 1960's the total production of tea and exports exceeded to 200,000 metric tones and 200,000 hectares, and for the first time in 1965, Sri Lanka became the world's largest tea exporter. In 1963 the production and export of instant Tea was introduced and the first International Tea Convention was held in 1966 to commemorate 100 years of tea industry in Sri Lanka. In 1976 the Sri Lankan Tea Board was founded along with others such as the Janatha Estate Development Board, Sri Lanka Estate Plantation Cooperation and the Tea Small Holding Development Authority, these bodies played a major part when it came to supervising the estates acquired by the state. And this same year tea bags were introduced to export.
In 1980 the official supplier of tea for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games was Sri Lanka, and again in 1982 for the 12th Commonwealth Games held Brisbane and alter on in 1987 at the Expo 88 in Australia.
Subsequently in the years to come the production and the export of tea rapidly increased and was introduced to variations, such as the production of Green Tea and also other flavored tea. In 2001 tea made it's first online sale at the Colombo Tea auctions.
Ceylon Tea is famous worldwide, the weather conditions in the country provides vastly to the success of its growth and is made famous by the taste and quality that is only unique to Ceylon Tea. Sri Lanka caters Ceylon Tea to a number of global markets and has become the most favorite beverage among its consumers worldwide.
Regions of Tea Cultivation
Ceylon tea has a distinctive taste and it has qualities unique to itself, likewise the tea produced in each region in Sri Lanka has its unique characteristics, the taste and quality of tea differs from region to region. This is the result of the different climates and elevations present in the regions.
Tea grown in this region comes from Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. In Nuwara Eliya tea is grown at an elevation of 6,200ft above sea level and has rare and refined qualities that differs from the low-grown teas. As a result of the higher altitudes and low-temperatures, Nuwara Eliya produces slow-grown bushes with rather small leaves which takes on an orange hue after withering. The infused tea leaves take on a greenish-yellow and has a pale liquor compared to other Ceylon Teas.
Kandy is famous for mid-grown teas and is also responsible for producing flavorsome teas. Kandy produces a variety of strengths and styles, and it all depends on the elevation of which the tea is grown at, tea grown at a lower elevation produces a rather large leaf and has a strong flavor when infused and tea grown at a higher elevation produces a smaller leaf and has a mild and delicate flavor to it. The best tea is produced in the first quarter of the year when the cool and dry weather sets in. Teas hailing from Kandy produce bright infusions with coppery tones, and also has fair amounts of strength and body.
The tea grown in the Uva region has a distinctive flavor and are mainly used in blends. The tea is grown at an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 ft. Tea produced in this region comes from estates in Bandarawela, Badulla and Haputale. Uva teas are also known for its recognition around the world. They produce a leaf that is more blackened by withering than that of any other region and has a wide variety of ranges and the unique weather conditions contribute to the distinctive flavors and aromas that makes tea from Uva famous among tea lovers around the world. Uva region is also responsible for producing a significant amount of green tea.
Best known as low-grown teas, the tea estates of this region lies within an elevation of 2000ft above sea level. The soil and the low elevation of the region contributes to the rapid growth of the tea bush and produces a long beautiful leaf that turns intensely black on withering and is ideal for 'rolling'. As the weather conditions are particularly warm and dry they produce a burgundy hued liquor in the cup. The teas grown in this region has a strong malty flavor, and the aromas have distinctive qualities to it, and is mainly consumed as black tea.
Tea grown in this region has a little variation to it than of the teas grown in southern district, this is a result of the wider range of altitude at which it is grown and the varied climatic conditions. They too produce a fast-growing bush with long leaves that are rather black when withered and very well suited for rolling. The liquor too is similar to that of the teas from southern district, a dark-yellow brown with a hint of red and during the dry season a little bit lighter in shade. The aroma though is completely different with a hint of sweet caramel and not quite as strong as southern teas and the flavor of the teas are somewhat stronger.
Each tea grown in each region contributes to the quality and distinctive flavors of Ceylon Tea that is famous all around the world among tea lovers.
Grades of Ceylon Tea
During the process of production, Ceylon tea is manufactured in a variety of leaf sizes which are then sorted into various styles by sifting. These leaves then graded according to their sizes. The process of grading does not indicate the quality of tea or the flavors and aromas, it solely indicates the size and the appearance of the leaf that is manufactured. These grades range from large leafy teas such as Orange Pekoe to semi-leafy grades such as Flowery Pekoe and the standard grades such as BOP, BOP Fanning, and Dust grades. Below mentioned are the most common grades found and a description to understand the distinctions of the Grades.
The whole Leaf Grades are as follows:
OP or Orange Pekoe- This grade is the highest grade given to manufactured tea. The characteristics of the tea leaf appear long, wiry and thin. When brewed its flavor has a delicate fragrance and tastes wonderfully delicious and the liquors are light and pale in color.
Pekoe- The leaves of this grade differ from that of OP, its leaves are short and not as much wiry as OP, but it is a bit more twisted than OP. When brewed its flavor has a hint of bitterness along with a sweet finish and it is rich in color.
OPA or Orange Pekoe A- the characteristics of this grade consists of a leaf that is long and bold which varies from tightly wound to almost open. Its flavor is mild and the liquor is light in color.
OP1 or Orange Pekoe 1- The leaf of this grade is delicate, long and wiry. It contains a light liquor and a flavor of refined taste.
Broken Leaf Grades
BOP Or Broken Orange Pekoe- This grade of tea is the most sought after. It is a well made, neat leaf of a medium size with and abundance of stalk and fiber. The flavor of the tea is rich and fresh and the liquor is bright in color.
BOPF or Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning- This grade consists of a leaf that is rather smaller than BOP, it is also one of the most common grades found in Sri Lanka. The leaf is neat and fairly clear and has a richness to its flavor along with a liquor that is bright in color.
BOP 1 or Broken Orange Pekoe 1- The leaf of this grade is wiry and medium in length, it has a mild and malty flavor and is golden in color. This is one of the best tasting teas in the broken range.
FBOP or Flower Broken Orange Pekoe- The leaf is more coarse and broken and includes a fair amount of tips, they are shorter and smaller in size than BOP1, its bright in color and has a soft flavor to it.
FBOPF or Flower Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning- Considered to be one of the best teas in the Fanning range, this grade consists of leaves that are smaller and similar in size to that of BOPF, it also contains a reasonable amount of tips and is bright in color. Its flavor is rich and fresh.
FBOPF1 or Flower Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning 1- This grade consists of leaves that are larger in size compared to BOP, it contains a low amount of tips and once brewed it has a sweet flavor to it.
PF1 or Pekoe Fanning 1- The leaf is the smaller size of the CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl) manufacturing process. The flavor is rather strong and is ideal for Tea Bags.
Dust 1- These are rather smaller than BOPF, they are fine granular particles that contains optimum strength and body, it is ideal for commercial brewing.
Silver Tips- This grade contains the finest buds that turn rather velvety once dried, they are a long tippy leaf and is silver in color and hardly contains any black leaf. Once brewed it has a very delicate flavor and is ideal for medicinal purposes.
These are the most well know grades of Ceylon Tea. Every grade has distinctive qualities to it. The “Flowery” variants of the main grades such as FBOPF or FBOP are well known to fetch higher prices in the international markets and are the most expensive to produce.
Types Of Ceylon Tea
The taste and richness of Ceylon Tea is resplendently known around the world. The care and dedication that goes into producing Ceylon Tea is what makes it extra special. Sri Lanka is home to over 188,000 hectares of land under tea cultivation which yields about 298,000 tonnes of produced tea and it accounts for more than 19% of world exports. Ceylon Tea that is being exported around the world comes in several types, the most commonly and famously enjoyed is of course Ceylon Black tea, secondly Green tea and lastly White Tea or ' Silver Tips'. These teas are produced in different ways to achieve it's quality and taste.Ceylon Black Tea
For over a century Ceylon Black tea has been one of the most famous and well loved teas around the world. The process of manufacturing Black tea includes withering of the plucked leaves to reduce its moisture content by approximately 50%. Thereafter the leaves are rolled by mechanical tea rollers to separate and break them into parts. This process of breaking up the leaves leads to a chemical reaction that is catalyzed by the enzymes in the leaf. Ceylon Black tea is the most oxidized variety and contains more caffeine than the rest of the varieties. Black tea is best grown in a climate that is hot and moist where the temperature does not exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit and does not fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result of being close to the equator the climatic conditions of Sri Lanka is ideal to grow and produce Black tea. Tea is grown in numerous estates around the country which vary in altitude thus giving it distinctive qualities. High grown tea has a honey golden liquor that is light and considered to be one of the best tasting teas around the world due to its well-defined flavor, aroma and strength. Low grown tea has a burgundy brown liquor and a flavor which is rather strong. Mid grown teas have a strong, rich and full-bodied flavor.Ceylon Green Tea
The reputed quality of Ceylon Tea has rapidly grown to include green tea to its mix. Like black tea, tea lovers around the world are in the process of discovering the joys of green tea. The Ceylon Green Tea industry, though very young, is growing rapidly as the product has garnered a popularity among tea drinkers around the world. The main export markets of Ceylon Green Tea are the Middle East and the Soviet Union, sales are also rapidly improving in Europe, North America and East Asia. Green Tea is rich in antioxidants as it is processed differently, which helps it to retain its nutrients that are ultimately beneficial to your heath. Ceylon Green tea has a fuller body with a rather pungent and malty, nutty flavor to it. Today Ceylon Green Tea is manufactured in a number of estates in mid-grown and high-grown districts. Among the varieties of green tea produced in this estates are the Longevity Tea, Rolled 'Gunpowder' Tea, Green Tea Fannings and Sencha Fannings. Ceylon Green teas have characteristics that differentiate them from the rest of the green teas produced around the world, they tend to be darker in both dry and infused leaf and contains a rather rich flavor.Ceylon White Tea
Ceylon white is also produced from the same plant as the black and green tea, though the plant has slight differences to it. The leaves and buds are left to wither in natural sunlight and there after they are lightly processed to avoid oxidization, this results in white tea being the least processed tea of all and is abundant with health benefits. Ceylon white is is famously known as 'Silver Tips', this is due to the color it transforms into after the manufacturing process, it is also one of the most priced teas in Sri Lanka. The tea was first grown in Nuwera-Eliya. Ceylon White tea is famous among tea lovers for its mild and sweet flavor, it has a delicate, very light liquoring with notes of pine and honey and a golden coppery infusion.
Ceylon Tea is rich and exquisitely flavorsome, and comes in wide varieties to benefit the taste buds of each and every tea lover around the world.
Health Benefits Of Ceylon Tea
Ceylon tea is famous around the globe for its unique taste and qualities, it has distinctive qualities and a recognition around the world for being one the best teas manufactured and holds its own in the international market among teas produced in other countries. The splendid weather conditions in Sri Lanka and the rich history surrounding Ceylon Tea are some of the factors that contributes to its greatness.
There are several types of Ceylon Teas that are produced, the most commonly known of course is Ceylon Black tea. It is highly regarded around the globe for its rich color and the strong flavor with citrus overtones. Ceylon Black Tea has more caffeine compared to other teas produced.
Ceylon Green Tea is known to have a vastly different flavor to that of green teas produced around the world. Its flavor is quite strong and leafy and also darker in color, where as Ceylon White Tea carries a rather sweet flavor with overtones of honey and is light in color. White tea is known to be the priciest tea produced in Sri Lanka, it is also know as 'Silver Tips'.With these distinctive qualities Ceylon Tea is also known to have a voluminous amounts of health benefits.
Health Benefits of Ceylon Black Tea.
Ceylon Black Tea has many health benefits. It is known that Ceylon Black Tea contains less caffeine than coffee and is an excellent booster for your immune system. Black tea is known to be an excellent defense against cancer, the theaflavins and the thearubigins present in black tea are well known anti-oxidants that help to fight free radicals that can damage DNA which causes cancer in your body.
Consuming black tea regularly can decrease your chances of heart diseases. The anti-oxidants found in black tea can help in lowering cholesterol levels inside blood vessels, thereby avoiding high blood pressure and strokes. These anti-oxidants can also help in reducing the size of tumors.
Like green tea, Ceylon Black tea helps in mental alertness and acuity which is a result of an increase of alpha-wave activity in your brain. The daily consumption of black tea is helpful in keeping you safe from viruses and bacteria and it also reduces the chances of you catching influenza and boosts your immune system to prevent you catching any other diseases. Ceylon black tea is also know to reduce stress in you system.
Health Benefits Of Ceylon Green Tea
As we now know that Ceylon Green Tea has a stronger flavor, it is safe to say that it contains copious amounts of anti-oxidants, more than black tea for that matter. Green tea is famously known to increase your metabolism which ultimately results in burning unwanted fat in your body.
Green tea has a vast amounts of anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities. Its daily consumption has proven to reduce osteoporosis. The anti-oxidants found in green tea has been proven to help reduce bone loss and in turn increase bone building muscles.
Green tea is also known to reduce oral health problems. The catechins present in green tea can kill bacteria and viruses that causes soar throats, dental cavities, gum diseases, and bad breath.
Green Tea improves brain functions and protects your brain during old age. The catechins present in green tea has protective effects on neurons which in turn can reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Green tea is also know widely to reduce risk of heart diseases and cancer. The catechins found in green tea stalls cell mutation and reduces the risk of tumors being formed. Like wise these catechins also help in relaxing your blood vessels and giving it an even flow and prevents clots from forming which reduces the risk of heart attacks.
Health Benefits Of White Tea
The amount of caffeine present in White tea is less compared to green and black tea and has more anti-oxidants. Since white tea is processed less it has all the nutrients in tact and is the healthiest of teas. The health benefits are similar to that of green tea but its effectiveness is doubled due it the nutrients present.
White tea can help you reduce stress and anxiety this is due to the amino acid called Theanine. It can calm your nerves and is also well known o prevent depression.
Like Green Tea, Ceylon white tea is also a great fat burner, the rich amounts of poly phenols help reduce fat accumulation and increase your metabolism. Just like green tea, it is also helpful in reducing risk of heart disease, lowering levels of cholesterol, help build stronger bones, and kills bacteria and virus present in you body. White tea has properties that help in reducing your blood sugar which in turn reduces risk of diabetes.
Ceylon Tea has qualities and benefits that are essential to your life. Next time substitute your cup of coffee for a delicious cup of Ceylon Tea and enjoy the benefits it has to offer.