Tea was first introduced by the British who managed to penetrate the island's hill country in 1800's. Tea bushes make the valleys in the central of the island look like thick green carpets, sprinkled with eucalyptus, Albesia and other trees. Tea-pluckers work on the slopes and their colourful colorful sarees make the scenery even more vibrant.
The tale of Ceylon tea began when the majority of Ceylon's then principle crop, coffee was destroyed by the coffee-rust fungus in late 1800s. Thereafter James Taylor sowed the first batch of tea seeds in a land of his up in the hills. Since then the journey if the tea industry began to bloom in the island, bringing the country into it's present state being one of the largest tea produces and exporters in the world.
Ceylon tea is renowned for it's rich taste and flavour around the world. The mellow taste, the golden colour and the strong aroma of Sri Lankan tea would never be forgotten in a tea lover's mind. Ceylon tea has been recognized as the world's cleanest tea by many sources as in the world as far as pesticide residues are concerned having been named as 'Ozone friendly' by "Montreal Protocol" in 2011 for not using any ozone depleting substances.
Even though hill country is most popular for tea growth, there are seven regions in the island where tea is the commercial crop. Namely Nuwaraeliya, Uva, Dimbulla and Uda Pussalawa are where the high grown tea is grown since these regions are 4000ft above the sea level. The Kandy region is where you find the medium grown tea the region being 2000 – 4000 feet above the sea level and Sabaragamuwa and Ruhuna, being where the low grown tea is found. These regions are only 2000ft in elevation. The tea from these different regions is varied from each aspect of which tea differs.
95% of the tea produced in Sri Lanka is exported to over 160 nations around the world. 50% of it being exported to Middle Eastern countries, Russia, the gulf coast, and the CIS countries are the largest consumers of Ceylon tea.
Tea is made entirely from tender buds and moist leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis. Tender leaves are mostly hand picked by female tea pluckers as the end product solely depends on the good harvesting practices and also transportation of the green leaves to the factory.
The harvest of tea is weighed and placed in withering troughs where warm air is pressed through to reduce the humidity of the leaf. The withered or dried tea leaves and buds are placed on tiled tables for oxidization with a natural draft of fresh air to enable much enzyme activity so the flavours would be strong and the end product would be much aromatic.
Afterward, the dhool (or the pulp like stuff) are passed through hot air blowers in order to remove the moist. Once this drying is done, the end product is ready and here we are – Ceylon Special tea!
Thus the tea grading is done as per the size of particles from the largest to the smallest. The largest being Orange pekoe and the smallest being the tea dust.
- Nuwara Eliya - Delicate aroma
- Uda Pussellawa – Strong taste
- Dimbulla - Delectably smooth
- Uva - Authentically scented
- Kandy - Intense
- Sabaragamuwa - Tasteful in it's own way
- Ruhuna - Distinctively unique
Types of tea
Ceylon Black Tea
One of the country's specialties. It has a strong aroma of citrus and used in both mixed and unmixed. It is grown mostly in Ruhuna, Sabaragamuwa and Kandy regions.
Ceylon Green Tea
Mainly grown out of the Idalagashinna area in the Uva region. Green teas from Sri Lanka have their own characteristics at this time – they tend to be darker in both the dry and infused leaf, and their flavour is richer; Ceylon green teas generally have the fuller body and the more pungent, rather malty, nutty flavour characteristic of the teas. At the moment Sri Lanka is a minor producer of The Green Teas.
Ceylon White Tea also known as silver tips
Ceylon white tea is the most highly prized due to the labour used for production. The tea is grown, harvested and rolled by hand with the leaves dried and withered in the sun. Found in certain tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya and In the Ruhuna regions.
Ceylon Tea Museum
Situated at the Hantane Estate, was a tea factory prior to the conversion of the museum and had been built in 1925. Sri Lanka Tea Board, Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka and the Planters' Association of Ceylon and today manages the Tea Museum and there you may get to see a fascination collection of machinery of the yester years. Some dating back to more than a century have been restored and seem to be in excellent working order at the premises. There are old rollers, dryers and other typical factory machinery in their original settings. Exhibits on the lives and work of Ceylon Tea Pioneer James Taylor are true master pieces.
Hotels attributed to tea
A tale of tea would be such a wonderful experience to relate to your friends back home when you return... And this tale would be spiced up if you stay at a hotel attributed for tea itself...
Heritance Tea Factory
Heritance Tea Factory' is a star class hotel situated among tea plantations. As mentioned on their own website "Where else in the world can you stay in a converted tea factory?" You can even pluck your own tea and take it home with you... And this will be one of the most memorable holidays you may have ever experienced....
How about being pampered in your own tropical paradise? The Ceylon Tea Trails, where the four bungalows of the hotel are Nestled amid the dark green highlands of the valley, the property is mainly for those who would prefer tranquility and serenity. The name it self hints, that these luxury bungalows are situated in a trail of tea plantations and is also would be a non forgetting experience.
Apart from these luxury resorts, you find a number of Plantation bungalows situated near tea plantations which have become a popular retreat for the locals with their own cuisine. These bungalows are in the British colonial settings and the caretaker would provide all services.
For your knowledge
Your tour would not be complete without visiting the Kandy Royal Botanical gardens since the first ever tea plant brought from China, back in 1824 was planted there.