Ceylon Tea - A Brief History Of Sri Lanka

by Steven Popec 10. March 2010 15:14

Ceylon Black Tea

Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tea can also be attributed to "India". This island located close to India which produces the same amount of tea as the mainland plantations, and even more generating roughly $700 million annually. Cultivation of tea in Sri Lanka started accidentally. Up until the 1860’s, Ceylon was only for coffee plantations, but due to sudden fungal disease called “coffee rust” most of the coffee trees have died and brought the downfall of coffee production, then igniting an era of tea. In 1867 the first tea plantation in Ceylon was laid by Scott James Taylor in Kandy. He became the father of tea cultivation in Ceylon. In 1890’s Sir Thomas Lipton visited Ceylon and founded his own tea plantations and factories for tea processing focused on the needs of British consumers. Ceylon black teas are divided into three main types: high-grown (1,200 meters above sea level), mid-grown (600-1,200 m) and low-grown (up to 600 m). The share of high-altitude, high-quality tea is relatively small; it is the finest plantations in Nuwara Eliya that are located at an altitude 6,128 ft. Good quality tea are also harvested on the plantations: Dimbula ( altitude ranging between 3,500 ft to 5,000 ft), Uva province( altitude ranging between 3,500 ft to 5,000 ft) and Ratnapura (low-grown tea).

Indian tea Nuwara Eliya is the highest tea region in the world and considered one of the most important locations for tea production in Sri Lanka. Tea produced in Nuwara Eliya has a very unique flavor. Tea leaves gather year around, but the best yields are in January-March. Tea leaves in this region are plucked at dawn, it is the time when leaf retains its freshness and then displays it in the brewed beverage. Sometimes the tea from Nuwara Eliya  called the "champagne of tea", as well as some teas from Darjeeling province in northern India. This tea gives a tincture of golden color, delicate and refined flavor and slightly astringent taste.

Uva region is situated in the south-eastern part of Sri Lanka in the mountains, which are located on the slopes of the plantation growers an excellent tea. Uva area’s tea is widely used for blends such as English Breakfast Black Tea Blend, Irish Breakfast Black Tea Blend, Morning Tea…etc.  A distinctive feature of tea from this district is a golden-reddish infusion, excellent flavor and a wonderful taste.

In the Dimbula area most tea plantations are located on the south-eastern slopes. The best tea is obtained in January-March, when the weather is dry and cold (for this latitude) and is determining factor of flavor. The main characteristic of the local tea is the aroma of a faint lemon note. The taste of the tea is full, with a little tartness, the infusion is bright and reddish color.

 

History Of Tea

by Steven Popec 8. February 2010 20:56

There is no place on Earth where you cannot find a love to tea and its history. This drink is second by popularity only after water. Homeland of Tea is South-West China and adjacent areas of Upper Burma and North Vietnam.
 
Interestingly, the word tea has come to East Europe through the Turkic languages from North Chinese “cha”, while the source of the name in Western Europe was the South Chinese “te”. There is no way to establish the exact time of appearance of the drink in different regions.
 
The first mention of tea dates back to ancient times. How wild tea was discovered, tell legends of China, India and Japan. One of them, there was tea in the time of creation of Heaven and Earth, it is associated with the name of Sovereign Sun Yan Di. On the other Southern Chinese emperor Chen Nung (III millennium BC) once tried the drink, which accidentally turned out to be tea leaves, accidentally fell into boiling water. The drink was so fragrant and delicious that the Emperor ordered to collect and preserve these leaves and issued a decree on the application of his nationwide.

Historical monuments confirm that tea was known in China in the Three Kingdoms period (220 - 280 years). The growing of tea as a culture plant refers to the year 350. Hindus believe that the tea bush was accidentally discovered by Prince Badhidharma while traveling to Southern China. According to Japanese legend, a tea bush grew in the place where prince Daruma’s eyelids fell after he cut them off, in order not to fall asleep during meditation. From this bush Daruma’s followers gathered leaves and made refreshing drink.
 
In 1763 a Swedish navigator brought the famous naturalist Charles Linneyu from China living tea bush. Scientist, being confident in the uniqueness of this plant, gave tea its name classification thea sineusis – Chinese tea. In the XIX century in the Indian province of Assam, Burma and Laos were discovered tea trees. Botanist had to admit that the tea has a different kind, which was given the title of thea assamica - Assamese tea.

Chinese philosophers said that tea is better than wine, because it can strengthen and invigorates the human soul.  It does not cause intoxication, it is better than water because tea does not transmit infection.
 
At first, tea was used only by rulers and clerics as curative drink, that eliminates fatigue, strengthens force and vision, or in the composition of ointments. The use tea as a drink in its homeland began in the 5th century. The value of tea was very high - emperors awarded their dignitary in the promotion. In the 6th century, tea was a favorite beverage of nobility, by in the 10th century, tea had become the national drink of China and, consequently, the subject of trade.
In Europe, tea was brought in the 16th – 18th centuries, by Portuguese and Dutch. Rooted in the Netherlands, the use of the drink has become a tradition of afternoon tea drinking, and spread across the Atlantic to New Amsterdam.

In 1664 merchants of the English East India Company brought as a gift to the King, two pounds of tea. The gift was accepted, the drink was appreciated, and a triumphal procession of tea began. At first as a luxury item available to the rich and the nobility, but much later - as the traditional drink of broad segments of society. Tea became available to citizens only in the late XVIII century, after reducing the tax on tea, but for most was still too expensive.
 
In 1793, Lord McCartney transported the seeds of Chinese tea to India in the Botanical Garden to explore and cultivate. India, whereas was the former colony of the British Empire, actively developing the production of tea. In 1860 it was sold for around 2 tons. The question of the rate of transport has arisen.
By boundless sea bear tea clipper - high-speed sailboats with valuable cargo. Tea race become a tradition with promise of winning trophy. Known as the case when three-clippers - "Ariel", "Taping", and "Serika" - were all synchronous distance 25,744 km in length and finished along the harbor.
 
In Java, Sumatra, Vietnam tea begin to grow in the first half of the 19th century, in the second half - in Africa and South America, in the early twentieth century - in northern Italy and southern Switzerland. At present, breeding of tea has developed in Australia.
 
The official history of tea in Russia started in 1638, when the Mongol ruler of the Altyn-Khan sent a gift of 72kg of a strange dry leaf to the king, Mikhail Fedorovich. The first acquaintance with tea happened much earlier in 1269 because of the Russian Diocese being located in Beijing.  Russian people visited China for a variety of reasons, Therefore they had exposed to way of life there and had been well aware of tea. Russian traders dealing with Chinese merchants were introduced to tea ceremonies by direct route from Beijing to Moscow. Tea came much later - in 1665, brought by ambassador Perfiliev. In the 1679 Russia develops the agreement with China regarding the permanent supply of tea. Until the end of 18th century, tea was sold mainly in Moscow. From Moscow, the fashion for tea began to spread throughout Russia.

In 1874, imported from Paris, the tea bush was planted in Nikitsky Botanical Garden in Crimea. However, the tea bush did not survived there. Then cuttings were brought to Georgia, where they acclimatized, well developed, and subsequently gave the seeds. Since then, Georgian tea was a delight not only in Georgia and Russia, but also in many other countries. In 1900, small estates have been cultivated in Azerbaijan. In 1936 in the Krasnodar region of Russia, they cultivated three teas, “Georgian”, “Azeri” and “Krasnodarsky”.

To date, the cultivation and production of tea, engaged in Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Japan, Australia. In doing so, they had been recognized by the major producers - China, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kenya. Lastly, in Europe (United Kingdom, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, France) the widespread of tea packing companies developed as proprietary blenders of tea and tisanes.

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