From its humble beginnings in 1867, Ceylon is now the fourth largest producer of tea in the world with an output of over 300 Million Kilos per annum. Ceylon tea reaches a milestone when it celebrates 150 years of tea production in 2017.
During this period Ceylon tea has carved an enviable niche as a producer of quality teas. The varieties of teas are distinctly unique in appearance and taste depending on the region, elevation, climate and process of manufacture. The range of teas produced have found ready acceptance by discerning customers all over the world.
What makes Ceylon Tea unique is that its industry’s focus has not only been in producing high quality black orthodox teas, but also to ensure the product is ethically produced, clean and conforms to accepted food safety regulations. Additionally most Sri Lankan tea factories and processing facilities have obtained ISO and HACCP certification.
Ceylon’s long experience in tea manufacturing has enabled it to reach a very high standard in its production processes and management of the industry and Ceylon tea continues to remain a prominent feature of many of our blends.
Growing Regions of Ceylon
Over 220 hectares of the island of Ceylon is covered with tea plantations, representing around 4% of the countries total land area. Tea is grown on steep hills and the main planting areas in Ceylon are distributed throughout 7 main regions. These are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Uva, Uda Pusselawa, Kandy, Ruhuna and Sabragamuwa. The flavour and liquor characteristics of the teas produced in Ceylon will vary according to locality as a result of the varying soil, climate and growing elevation across the different regions.
The country experiences two monsoons per year that have a major effect on the quality of tea produced.Plantation’s located on the western side of the mountains in the central part of Ceylon produce flavour high-quality teas from December to February when the monsoon winds blow from the North-East of the island. Plantation’s located on the eastern side of the central mountains produce their best quality from April to September when the monsoon winds blow from the South- East of the island. Because of the geographical location, tea can be plucked in Sri Lanka all year round.
Ceylon teas can be classified under three categories; low grown (for teas grown on estates up to 2000 ft above sea level); medium grown (between 2000 and 4000ft); and high grown (over 4000 ft).
Low grown teas, which form around 50 percent of total production, possess a strong character with much colour and strength. Most of the Low Grown areas are planted with the Assamica variety of Camelia Sinensus tea plant, and this variety has tender and succulent leaves that produce very black leaves when processed.
The Chinese variety is small leaved, leathery, more hardy and grows well in higher elevations being able to withstand the cold and winds. The liquors are lighter in cup and more fragrant and aromatic. The Chinese variety was therefore planted in the higher elevations.