The History of Ceylon Tea

by Elena Popec 23. July 2012 13:28

As you might know, ‘Ceylon’ is the former name of Sri Lanka, a large island country off the coast of India in the Indian Ocean. But what’s the story behind Ceylon tea?  Some of ESP Emporium’s most popular black tea blends come from Ceylon. Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Ceylon black tea.

Ceylon’s tea industry is an important part of its economy. In fact, it’s the country’s largest employer. In total, Sri Lanka’s tea industry employs approximately 1 million people, making Sri Lanka the 3rd largest tea producing country on the planet.

Sri Lanka was once a British colony. Contrary to what you might believe, the first major crop in Sri Lanka was coffee, not tea. However, after the island’s coffee plantations caught a serious disease in the 1860s, Ceylon’s residents were left looking for another productive crop.

Tea swiftly replaced coffee as the island’s number one crop. Ceylon’s residents experimented with tea growing methods, cultivation techniques, and leaf manipulation in order to maximize the country’s output. Ceylon’s tea growing efforts were particularly aided by the efforts of a Scotsman by the name of James Taylor. He called Ceylon the “Pearl” of the Indian Ocean and recognized the island’s natural affinity for growing tea.

Because of the efforts of Taylor and other tea enthusiasts, Ceylon tea was soon being prized around the world. International demand grew rapidly over the years, and tea quickly turned into Ceylon’s most profitable plantation crop.

Sri Lanka’s tea estates

Ultimately, Ceylon’s booming tea industry led to the creation of a number of important tea estates in the central part of the country. During the British period, these tea estates were ruled over by a group of landlords called English Tea Barons, and as a result, many of the estates feature colonial Tudor styling and design.

Today, those tea estates provide valuable foreign exchange revenue and offer a reliable source of employment for approximately one million Tamils. The tea estates are located in both highland and lowland areas and offer a picturesque view of the surrounding countryside. Visitors to the country often visit Sri Lanka’s famous tea estates, and the estates continue to be the country’s most important source of revenue.

Sri Lanka tea benefits

Ceylon tea is rumored to have a number of powerful benefits. Namely, Ceylon black tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Like many East Asian teas, Ceylon tea is derived from the camellia sinensis plant, which has been linked to everything from healthy healths to weight loss. Because of all these benefits, Ceylon tea is valued around the world.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Ceylon tea is known throughout the world for its top-quality aroma, flavor, and health benefits. The country has a rich history in tea production that continues to be prominent to this day. Whether you’re visiting Sri Lanka or just drinking Ceylon tea, every sip you take is one steeped in history.

Sri Lanka’s Tea Industry Could Pass $5 Billion In Exports By 2020

by Steven Popec 18. July 2012 11:43

As one of the world’s largest tea producers, we’re used to seeing massive tea production numbers from Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka’s Daily News is reporting that the country’s tea industry could achieve $5 billion USD in exports by the year 2020.

Since the entire country’s GDP is worth approximately $50 billion, the fact that tea could be worth about 10% of that amount is notable. However, the important thing to realize about this news is that the country’s tea production would not necessarily increase, but the price of Ceylon tea would.

Sri Lanka’s Treasury Secretary stated last week that production of tea is only expected to increase by 2% to 3% by 2020. Prices, however, could be raised by as much as triple their current price. The statement was made at the 118th Annual General Meeting of the Colombo Tea Traders Association, held June 29th in Sri Lanka’s capital.

This means that, within the next 5 to 10 years, prices on Ceylon tea could raise dramatically. Ceylon tea is famous for its black tea blends, as well as its connection to various health benefits. Of course, many people find Ceylon tea to have a delicious taste as well.

  The Treasury Secretary also urged Sri Lankan tea manufacturers to work together to ‘brand’ the country’s tea in order to collectively increase its value throughout the world. While Ceylon tea is a name known by most tea drinkers throughout the world, it’s not quite on the level of other famous brands, like Earl Grey tea or Oolong.

Interestingly enough, many in Sri Lanka view tea as a “rich man’s drink.” Most of the country’s tea crops are exported to places all over the world or consumed at higher prices locally. Cheaper teas are often imported, allowing locals to profit off of the high prices paid for Ceylon tea around the world. 

What’s the secret behind Sri Lankan tea?

You might know Sri Lankan tea better as ‘Ceylon’ tea. Ceylon was the name of the country under British rule during the 19th century. The British had a profound influence on the country’s tea production, turning the sub-tropical island nation from a coffee-producing country to a tea-producing powerhouse in an incredibly short period of time.

Today, the investments made by the British government are clearly paying off. Not only does the country earn millions of dollars in tourist revenue due to its beautiful British colonial-style tea plantations (which are scattered throughout the countryside), but Sri Lanka also depends upon the infrastructure and administrative systems established by the British in order to manage the country’s tea resources.

Since Sri Lanka has only recently become stable after the end of its civil war, its tea industry – and the country as a whole – is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years. Some even expect Sri Lanka’s GDP to grow to $100 million by 2020, which means that tea production would account for far less than 25% of that amount.

As of now, ESP Emporium’s Ceylon tea prices haven’t changed, and we don’t expect them to rise dramatically at any time in the near future. If the price of Ceylon tea does change by double or triple its current price at any time over the coming years, our ESP Emporium blog will be the first to let you know.

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.

 

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