Sri Lankan tea known as Ceylon tea boasts of a rich history dating back to over 150 years. The first tea plant was brought from China as a display plant and was exhibited in the Royal botanical gardens in 1824.
James Taylor first introduced tea to Ceylon when it was a British colony. While he was a successful commercial planter who pioneered in establishing the Ceylon tea industry there were many others who significantly contributed at the time. Guilford Lindsey Molesworth and Sir Edward Barnes are two others who pioneered in building the Ceylon tea industry.
Before tea was introduced as a commercial crop, Ceylon coffee was considered amongst the world’s best. The coffee industry collapsed with the coffee rust disease and then tea quickly took over providing employment to the same workers who looked after the coffee crops before that. In 1948, Ceylon became an independent country and from the British colony but, even after the name of the country was changed to ‘Sri Lanka’ in 1972, the tea industry remained with the name ‘Ceylon’ and to date the tea from Sri Lanka is called ‘Ceylon Tea’.
Many workers emigrated from India to work in the estates, and to date their decedents continue to work in the tea estates as tea leaf pluckers, superintendents and managers. The art of plucking “two leaves and a bud” was also introduced at the same time and is practices to date. Hand plucking tea leaves is an art and has been passed down by generations of women to their female family members who still practice it meticulously.
Ceylon tea is the pride and joy of Sri Lanka and the beautiful tea estates across mountain ranges are a witness to the rich history and culture behind the industry.
The Sri Lankan tea industry still continues to flourish with outstanding products enjoyed by tea drinkers around the world. Apart from the ideal conditions suitable for a perfect quality tea, the other secret is a simple one, which is extreme dedication and commitment to quality, excellence and consistency.
Sri Lankan teas are still known as Ceylon Tea worldwide and are synonymous as world’s finest teas.