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Tea Industry

HISTORY

In 1867, James Taylor a Scottish nationalist who embarked Sri Lanka in 1866,was known as the first tea seed planter in a 19 acre land called Loolecondera situated in Kandy. He had used his verandah as the factory and the tables to roll the tea leaf by hand. He sold his first teas locally which they were popular as delicious.

By 1872, Taylor possessed a well equipped factory and in the consecutive year, he could sell his first quality teas at the London auction. His crop increased from 23 pounds in 1872 to 22,899.8 tons in 1890. He gained an unblemished fame through his dedication and diligence over the success in the Tea cultivation in Sri Lanka.

To commemorate him the authorities of Sri Lanka built a museum at Loolecondera in 1992.

In 1981 the Sri Lankan government introduced a land reform act and as a result 80 percent of the British owned Tea estates came under the control of the government leaving 1/3in private hands. This state owned plantations were restructured in 1990 to involve the private sector as the Managing companies. Thus the financial responsibility and control of the estates remained with the private managing companies retaining the ownership with the government.

Sri Lankan Black Tea Manufacturing Process

Plucking

The black tea manufacturing process is quite an involved one, buy first; the tea has to be plucked. While in the industrialized country like Japan this activity is performed using a mechanical harvester, in Sri Lanka this is done by hand. It is usually the ladies who are considered the better pickers. They tend to be vey deft at picking only the two leaves and a bud, and leave the more coarsely leaf alone.

Withering

Once the leaf basket if full, the picker brings it to the central station where the basket is weighed and passed on to the factory floor. On the factory floor, the tea undergoes a withering process designed to remove as much moisture as possible from the tea, to prepare it for oxidation and drying. Usually, the tea leaves are spread out on a large tray of wire mesh, and hot air blowers are used to heat the leaf and drive the moisture out. At higher elevations, it is not unusual for the withering process to require 12-24 hours.

Rolling

At this point, the leaf has become limp and turned into a darker shade of green. The next step in the process is Rolling wherein the leaf is put into roller machines which twist and turn the leaf and break it, giving it the wirey shape characteristic of orthodox leaf. This process of rolling releases the enzymes from the leaf as the leaf breaks, exposing the juices to natural process of oxidation.

Oxidization/Fermentation

In the next stage, the Oxidation stage, the leaf is allowed to oxidize by exposing it to air in large trays. As the leaf oxidizes, it generates heat, and slowly changes in color from green to red to brown to eventually black.
Proper oxidation of the leaf is critical in the final flavor and color produced in the leaf. If the leaf is oxidized at too high a temperature, it would spoil the tea, and if it is oxidized at too low a temperature, the tea produced would be flavorless.

Firing

Finally, the tea is ready for drying. Once again, the leaf is exposed to hot air from air blowers, which drive the remaining moisture out of the leaf.

Once the leaf is dry, the tea is marked and tasted by an expert taster who describes the tea and issues the certificate of release. Often times, a blender blends various batches of tea to produce a characteristic flavor, however, most blending work is not done at the tea garden level. Rather, this happens at the blender and packers warehouse. This is where the manufacturing process generally ends, and the tea arrives into the market place

TEA GROWING AREAS OF SRI LANKA

Nuwara Eliya
Delicately Fragrant 

As Nuwara Eliya is unique, so is its tea, the fragrance of cypress trees and the menthol of wild mint and eucalyptus float through the air and contributes to the teas characteristic flavour. Recognized by tea connoisseurs, it has been said that Nuwara Eliya, at 6,250 feet (1,900 meters) above sea level for Ceylon tea is what champagne is to French wine. Brewed light it makes for a very smooth cup of tea that can also be iced for a refreshing difference.

Ruhuna
Distinctively Unique

These teas uniqueness begins with the low elevations of its plantations. The southern part of Sri Lanka, though now traditionally known for its tea growing does produce an exceptional tea. Grown from sea level to about 2,000 feet (600 meters) above sea level, the particular condition of the soil gives the leaves blackness and imparts in the brew a strong and distinctive taste. A perfect cup for those who like there tea thick and sweet, with or without milk.

Uda Pussellawa
Exquisitely  Tangy 

Located east of Nuwara Eliya, the tea grown on the Uda Pussellawa mountain range experiences two periods of superior quality. The traditional eastern quality season from July to September is the peak but the dry, cold conditions of the first quarter of the year yield a range of rosy teas. Of medium body and subtle character these teas produced a majestic flavor.

Dimbula
Refreshingly Mellow

One of the earliest areas to be planted after tea took over from coffee in the 1870’s, Dimbulla is, perhaps the most famous name associated with Ceylon tea. The plantations, located at 3,500 to 5,500 feet (1,100 meters to 1,700 meters) above sea level, cover the western slopes of the district.

The monsoon rain and the cold dry weather produce a range of teas, from full bodied to light and delicate. Enjoy with or without milk.

Uva
Exotically Aromatic

Grown at an elevation between 3,500 to 5,500 feet (1,100 meters to 1,700 meters) above sea level, on the eastern slopes of Sri Lanka’s central mountains, the Uva teas have a truly unique flavour. These teas are commonly used in many different blends but, with there different characteristics, they can also be enjoyed on there own.

Kandy
Intensely Fullbodied

An ancient capital of Ceylon, Kandy is also the first place where tea was grown in Sri Lanka. These mid country teas, grown on plantations at 2,000 to 4,000 feet (600 meters to 1,200 meters) produce a full bodied tea. Ideal for those who like their tea strong and bursting with flavour. Best served with milk