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Home > Sri Lanka Hotels > Sri Lanka Tea

A short introduction to Ceylon, Sri Lankan Tea.

Until the 1860's the main crop produced on the island of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was coffee. But in 1869, the coffee-rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, killed the majority of the coffee plants and estate owners had to diversify into other crops in order to avoid total ruin.

Most of the Ceylon tea gardens are situated at elevations between 3,000 and 8,000 feet in two areas of the southwestern part of the island, to the east of Colombo and in the Galle district on the southern point. In the hot, steamy plains and foothills, the tea bushes flush every seven or eight days and are picked all year round. The finest teas are gathered from late June to the end of August in eastern districts and from the beginning of February to mid-March in the western parts.

Until 1971, more than 80 percent of the island's tea estates were owned and managed by British companies. In 1971, the Sri Lankan government introduced a Land Reform Act which gave the state control of the majority of the plantations (which also grow rubber and coconuts for export) leaving about one-third in private hands. Since 1990, a restructuring program has been going on to involve the private sector companies (both Sri Lankan and foreign) as Managing Agents of the state-owned plantations. The long-term aim is for the private managing companies to take on most, if not all, of the financial responsibility and control of the estates, with the government retaining ownership. The tea sector in Sri Lanka has always been a vital component of her economy. It is also the country's largest employer providing employment both directly and indirectly to over one million people. It also contributes a significant amount to Government revenue and to the gross domestic product.

Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, acclaimed as the best tea in the world has its inherent unique characteristics and reputation running through more than a century. The influence of climatic conditions of its plantation imparts to the product a variety of flavors and aromas, synonymous with quality. Sri lanka as the 3rd biggest tea producing country globally, has a production share of 9% in the international sphere, and one of the world's leading exporters with a share of around 19% of the global demand. The total extent of land under tea cultivation has been assessed at approximately 187,309 hectares.

Sri Lanka mainly produced orthodox teas. In the orthodox process of production, semi dried green shoots are ruptured by rolling achieved from a rotary movement. The rolling process ruptures and twists the leaves. When tea leaves are crushed an oxidation process begins, which is followed by firing and commonly known black tea is produced.

Tea producing areas.

Sri Lanka's finest teas are produced mainly from bushes that grow above 4,000 feet. The bushes grow more slowly in the cooler, mistier climate, and are harder to harvest because of the steep angle of the slopes on which they are planted.

There are six main tea-producing areas. Galle, to the south of the island; Ratnapura, about 55 miles east of the capital Colombo; Kandy, the low region near the ancient royal capital; Nuwara Eliya, the highest area that produces the finest teas; Dimbula, west of the central mountains; and Uva, located east of Dimbula.


Like Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula is drenched by the monsoon during August and September and produces its best teas during the dry months of January and February. The teas are noted for their body and strength, and a powerful aroma.

  • Characteristics: Long wiry beautiful leaves that give an exquisite taste, with body and strength.
  • Brewing hints: Brew 1 teaspoon in a scant 1 cup water at 203 F. Infuse for 3-4 minutes.
  • Drinking recommendations: Drink with milk as an afternoon tea.


    Teas from the highest region on the island are often described as the "champagne" of Ceylon teas. The leaf is gathered all year round, but the finest teas are made from that plucked in January and February. The best teas of the area give a rich, golden, excellent quality liquor that is smooth, bright, and delicately perfumed.

  • Characteristics: Bright brisk flavour and wonderful perfume.
  • Brewing hints: Brew 1 teaspoon in a scant 1 cup water at 203 F. Infuse for 3-4 minutes.
  • Drinking recommendations: Good at any time of the day with a little milk.


    Ratnapura produces low-grown teas that are mainly used in blends, but also drink well alone with a little milk.

  • Characterisitcs: Long-leafed tea that gives a slightly sweet aroma and a gentle smooth taste.
  • Brewing hints: Brew 1 teaspoon in a scant 1 cup water at 203 F. Infuse for 3-4 minutes.
  • Drink with milk as an afternoon tea.


    Uva, on the eastern slopes of the central mountains, produces teas with a distinctive mellow flavor whose reputation stretches world-wide. The best teas are plucked between June and September The dry wind that blows towards Uva during this period gives the teas their fine taste and aroma.

  • Charateristics: Copper-colored infusion with a very smooth, pronounced taste and wonderful aroma.
  • Brewing hints: Brew 1 teaspoon in a scant 1 cup water at 203 F. Infuse for 3-4 minutes
  • Drinking recommendations: A breakfast or day-time tea. Drink with milk.

    The Correct Way to Make Tea.

    Pre-heat the pot by pouring boiling water into it. This will raise the temperature of the pot to 180 degrees Farenheit. Discard the water and add tea to the pot. This water has served its purpose: now use fresh boiling water. Pour boiling water over the Tea. This saturates the tea making for perfect extraction of flavor. Taking hot water to the table and then pouring it over tea will lower the water temperature too much and result in poor tea. For black teas steep a full five minutes, three for green teas. Good tea needs at least this much time to develop its full flavor. Decant the tea.

    Medicinal Effects Of Tea

    The extracts of tea contains polyphenols called catechins which are synergestic with vitamins E and C. Protective against digestive and respiratory infections and can reduce the cancer-promoting actions of carcinogens and ultraviolet light. The extracts can reduce cholesterol levels, and can also reduce high blood pressure

    They are also helpful with the following with the following conditions:

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Colds and Infections
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Immunodepression

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