The tale of Ceylon tea story starts with coffee. It begins in the latter part of the 18th century, when the British converted the jungle-clad mountains of the hill country into massive spaces of coffee plantations. In 1870 however, the coffee plantations were struck by fungus. Though devastated by the loss of crops, the British pursued on and wanted to try their hands-on Tea Cultivation instead.
The first tea estate – Loolecondera Estate - was started by James Taylor in 1867 and there arose the well-reputed Ceylon Tea. Eager to experiment with tea, Taylor set up the first tea ‘factory’ of the country in his very own verandah in his bungalow near Kandy.
The success of the industry was not limited to economic benefits alone. Infrastructur, such as roads, railways, bridges, and tunnels, was built, while botanists, engineers, surveyors mapped out the country. Centuries later, pure Ceylon tea is world renowned as the finest tea in the world.
Nowadays Sri Lanka is divided into six main growing areas; Ratnapura, a low to mid growing area; Galle, also a low growing area in the south; Kandy, where the first tea estate was located; Dimbula, a high growing area west of the Central Mountains; Uva, also a high-growing area west of Dimbula; and Nuwara Eliya, the highest tree growing region that produces some of the best teas.
Ceylon black tea
The fragrance and the flavour of the tea differ depending on the region. High-grown black tea has a honey golden liquor and light and a distinct flavour, aroma, and strength. Low-grown tea has a burgundy brown liquor and stronger in taste. Mid-grown teas are strong, rich, and full-bodied. Ceylon black tea is famous is used as the base for many blends, such as Earl Grey tea.
Ceylon green tea
Ceylon green tea is mainly grown in Idalgashinna in the Uva Province. The Ceylon Green Tea generally has a fuller body, and has a pungent, malty, and nutty flavour.
Ceylon white tea
Sri Lanka also specializes in white tea, which is also known as ‘silver tips’. This is one of the most expensive teas in Sri Lanka. It has a delicate and light liquoring and contains notes of pine and honey and a golden coppery infusion.