Tea in Ceylon. A little bit of history.
As well as in India, it was the English who introduced tea traditions in Ceylon. Before the 18th century, Ceylon was famous for its coffee. However, a pathogen destroyed many coffee trees back then. Therefore, the English decided to plant several tea trees there, mostly camelia sinensis and assamica.
The first tea plantation appeared in Ceylon in 1860, thanks to a Scottish botanist James Taylor. He was also the inventor of a special machine for rolling tea leaves.
Another person who had greatly influenced the development of tea traditions in Ceylon was Sir Thomas Lipton. In the 1890s he bought large areas of land and created tea plantations there by planting tea trees.
He then founded his own company that bore his name, Lipton. He planted, produced, imported and sold his tea without any intermediaries. That is why the Lipton slogan reads “direct from tea garden to tea pot”.
Ceylon tea became popular in the entire world after having been exhibited at the Chicago International Fair in 1893.
Ceylon, or Sri Lanka which as the country is referred to now, gained its independence from Britain in 1948. However, its tea remains very famous all over the world to this day.
Sri Lanka is the fourth tea producing country in the world, following India, China and Kenya. However, only black tea and fermented tea are produced there.
There are four large tea producing regions in Sri Lanka:
- Dimbula, Ceylon’s largest tea producing region
- Nuwara Eliya, the region producing where the most full-bodied tea of Sri Lanka
- The Uva: very high quality tea comes from this province, the most famous being Uva Highland
- The Kandy, situated in the north of the country and producing very fine tea
The Sri Lankans tend to drink a lot of tea. However, they export most of their tea to the west. The most famous teas that we have from Ceylon are Orange Pekoe and Pettiagalla. Those teas have a very good reputation in Europe, for their full-bodied taste and high quality!
By the way, speaking of quality, the quality chart used for Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea is also commonly used for some Indian Black tea types. Incidentally, India is the world’s largest producer of tea. And, just as it is the case with Ceylon tea, most of the tea produced in India is Black Tea. So, if you are fond of Ceylon Tea, you will probably wish to learn more about Tea in India.
Tea tasting traditions in Ceylon
The Sri Lankans are great tea lovers! They consume about 1.2 kilograms of tea per person.
However, there are no special tea drinking rituals in Ceylon, the only exception being high society where tea is usually served in beautiful porcelain cups, according to English afternoon tea traditions.