Probably producing the best black tea in the world, when Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka in the early 1970s it chose to retain the Ceylon Tea branding for which it had become famous.
A country blessed with fertile soil and its weather governed by regular monsoon rains, agricultural produce such as grains, spices, rubber, tea and coconut are produced in abundance.
However when it was colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British it was sugar and coffee plantations that were established.
Unfortunately the coffee plantations were destroyed by a blight in the 1860s and they were replaced by fledgling tea plantations, which were planted with cuttings from Assam in India.
In the 1880s, Sir Thomas Lipton was sailing to Australia and his ship docked in Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka. He was told of the plantations and the opportunity to purchase land cheaply for tea cultivation.
He took a train to the up country, fell in love with the beauty of the country and saw a potential business opportunity.
He proceeded to buy plantations which would produce quality tea for his supermarkets in Ireland and the UK.
The rest is history… Liptons Tea was established and he never did get to Australia!
Producing close to 8 per cent of the world’s tea, Sri Lanka exports over 90% of its production to the established tea markets of the world. The highest standards are therefore imposed on its exports.
Most of the tea on the island is grown in the central highlands and the differing characteristics of the tea produced is generally governed by the altitude, terroir and rainfall of the area where it is grown.
High Grown (Dimbula, Uva, Nuwara Eliya) Mid Grown (Kandy, Pusselawa) and Low Grown (Ratnapura) teas all have their distinctive flavours, appearance and aromas.
Ceylon Tea is generally produced by large expertly managed plantations with unionised work forces. Most of the tea is sold through a well established auction system.