The birth of the Ceylon Tea industry was in 1867, when a British sailor, named James Taylor, started a Tea Plantation of 19 acres in an estate called Loolecondera in Kandy. He then started a fully equipped factory in 1872 and the first sale of tea was made in Kandy. In 1873 the first shipment of Tea was sent to London, reflecting on the establishment of tea plantation, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle remarked that “the tea fields of Ceylon are as true a monument to courage as is the lion at Waterloo”. And from here in on, production of tea in Sri Lanka increased spectacularly, and became the largest exporter of tea.
The lusciously green tea plants cover over 4% of the countries land area. The crop requires high altitudes for prominent growth, and also a rainfall of over 100-125cm annually. The striking tropical weather conditions in Sri Lanka and the different altitudes of terrains factor in producing a blend of Tea that has an aroma and a flavor which gives a uniqueness to Ceylon Tea. Being on of the few countries where tea leaves are picked by hand instead of machinery, where if machinery is used twigs and coarse leaves tend to mix in and the flavors are destroyed, Sri Lanka produces fragrantly flavorsome tea. This rich flavor and aroma is acquired by plucking the two leaves and a bud, the skilful women responsible for this are also experienced in plucking a target of 15-20 kg of tea leaves daily to be weighed and sent to the factories.
Thereafter the production process includes of withering the tea leaves to eliminate the excess moisture in the leaves and they are rolled, twisted and parted. The rich oxidants found in Ceylon Tea is a result of the rolled tea leaves being exposed to heat where the process of fermentation begins, the heat that helps the fermentation process is from the natural air temperatures. Paying attention to the fermentation process is crucial as it helps to enhance the flavor of the tea. The oxidization brings in a change of color in the tea leaves, it goes from green to a bright copper color. Afterward the fermented leaves are inserted into a firing chamber, which uses artificial heating, to forestall further chemical reactions taking place. This process helps to retain the prominent flavor of Ceylon Tea.
Sri Lanka remains the largest exporter of tea and the 3rd largest in production of Tea. The economic value of tea contributes to being one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Ceylon Tea is catered to a number of foreign markets such as as Australia, Europe, North America, UAE, Egypt, Japan, Russia, UK and many more.
Tea produced and packaged in Sri Lanka bears the ‘Lion Logo’, which not only helps to identify the country of origin but it also depicts the quality of Ceylon Tea. The Sri Lankan tea board governs the use of the Lion Logo. This logo is only awarded after a rigorous assessment is performed regarding the process of manufacturing, packaging and handling of tea. In passing this assessment the producers are then allowed to use this Logo and its slogan ‘Pure Ceylon Tea-Packed in Sri Lanka‘.This guarantees the presence of 100% pure Ceylon Tea, which is the highest standard of quality demanded by the world’s Tea Industry.
The name ‘Ceylon Tea’ or ‘Sri Lankan tea’ is proudly complimented as a sign of quality tea around the World.