Tea regions in Sri Lanka
Tea regions in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka - a relatively small-sized state, at the same time is the fourth largest producer of tea in the world. The annual production capacity is on average 330 million. Kg, or 9% of the global tea production. Most of the tea products exported abroad, and among the largest exporters of tea, Sri Lanka is the second largest in the world. Ceylon tea exports exceeds 315 million. Kg per year, which is 18% of the total tea supplied to the world tea market. Currently, Sri Lanka produces tea, to meet the demand the finest fans of the drink in the world.
Ceylon Tea — The taste you can trust
Ceylon Tea - the taste you can trust .
Sri Lanka - a relatively small country in size , at the same time is the fourth largest producer of tea in the world . The annual production capacity is an average of 330 million kg, or 9 % of the global tea production . Most of the tea products are shipped abroad and Sri Lanka is the second largest tea exporter in the world. Export of Ceylon tea exceeds 315 million kg per year , accounting for 18 % of the total tea supplied to the world tea market . At present Sri Lanka produces tea, satisfying the most challenging demands of the tea drinkers worldwide.
The distinguishing feature of Ceylon tea lies not only in the volume of production of this product, but , above all, in its highest quality and taste. Tea is grown on the slopes of the central highlands of Sri Lanka, as well as the hilly areas in the south of the island.
Tea grown in Sri Lanka , divided into small leaf tea and big leaf tea . When brewing, tea gives a fragrant delicate flavor liquor with rich taste and pronounced colors. Most of the world's tea brands and blends contain a certain percentage of Ceylon tea, which gives them a mild taste , full-bodied flavor, golden color and a pleasant , natural aroma . That is the secret of broad popularity of fragrant Ceylon tea in the world.
In Sri Lanka, most of the production goes to full leaf tea – Orthodox tea. Plucking tea leaves is carried out manually. In this case, only bud and two upper leaves are picked up , which guarantees the high quality and taste of the drink . And also granulated tea - CTC , green tea, as well as soluble and organic teas are produced in small quantities.
Favorable topography of mountainous areas creates an exceptional opportunity for the cultivation of different varieties of tea. The diversity of soils , altitude, climate, wind speeds, change of seasons - all play an important role in forming the taste of tea .Tea plant is so sensitive to atmospheric changes that even the weather within one day may affect the quality of tea leaves .
The diversity in the production of leaf tea is the basis of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. The main tea regions of the island are Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Dimbula , Uda - Pusselava , Kandy , Sabaragamuwa and Ruhuna .
Probably the best-known of Sri Lanka’s tea-growing districts, Nuwara Eliya is also the most rugged and mountainous, with the highest average elevation. The air is cool and bracing; the winds are scented with eucalyptus and wild mint. Rainfall is moderate except during the dry season, which falls between February and April. Nights are cold and sometimes frosty. This unique climate, combined with the terrain peculiar to the region, produces a tea that is recognized by connoisseurs as among the finest – if not the finest – in the world.
Historically speaking, Nuwara Eliya is a relatively new place. The town from which the district takes its name sits perched on a plateau 1,868 m (6,128 ft) above sea level, under the shadow of Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, Pidurutalagala. Almost inaccessible in olden times due to the precipitous, jungle-clad terrain surrounding it, this scenic plateau was effectively uninhabited when it was discovered by an English explorer in 1818. Impressed by its magnificent scenery and climate, Sir Edward Barnes, the British governor of the time, resolved to turn the locale into the similar of Ceylon, a fashionable hill-station to which the government and society of the capital, Colombo, could repair during the hottest and unhealthiest months of the year. He accomplished this by the simple expedient of building a house there himself (it is now the Grand Hotel) and occupying it every year between March and April. ‘Newralia’ thus became, for a few weeks every year, the capital of colonial Ceylon.
In the early 1840s, a boom in Ceylon coffee saw the rapid conversion into plantations of parts of the hill country barely explored by Europeans until then. The pioneers who carved out these remote estates south and east of Kandy were lonely men who endured lives of some hardship; in the vale of Nuwara Eliya they found a salubrious and centrally-located place of meeting and recreation. The town that sprang up to serve their needs was a largely womanless place at first, shaped by the interests of the men who frequented it. Clubs and watering-holes proliferated, sporting tournaments and ‘shoots’ were regular events, but domestic and civic conditions were primitive.
Later, as the boom progressed, wealth and the civilized comforts it brought changed the character of Nuwara Eliya. By the beginning of the tea era, it had become a genteel, somewhat pretentious little town, self-consciously English in character. For most of the British period it remained a largely European enclave, and a few Nuwara Eliya clubs even went so far as to maintain whites-only membership policies for some years after Independence.
But Nuwara Eliya was always a bit too high up in the hills for coffee, and the frequent rains often damaged the crops. The discrict only found its métier after the great blight of the 1870s and ’80s had wiped out the coffee industry and Ceylon planters turned to tea. Desultory experiments with the new crop in earlier times had already shown it could be successfully cultivated there; now, it rapidly became clear that Nuwara Eliya offered an almost perfect climate for tea. By 1875, the first modest plantations were already flourishing, and by the end of the century, Nuwara Eliya was one of the principal tea-growing districts of Ceylon. It was generally acknowledged to produce some of the finest teas in the world – a reputation it has retained ever since.
Tasters’ Notes for Nuwara Eliya tea
NEliya Grown at high elevation at the very centre of Sri Lanka’s hill country, Nuwara Eliya tea enjoys two ‘quality seasons’, the eastern as well as the western. The balance between the two climatic systems varies from estate to estate, and a short drive from one location to another can see a complete change of weather. The tea produced here has a rarefied and refined quality that easily sets it apart from lower-grown varieties. High altitude and year-round low temperatures produce a very slow-growing bush with unusually small leaves that take on an orange hue – just a hint against the blackness – after withering. The infused leaf acquires a greenish-yellow tone, and the infusion in the cup is the palest among all the regional varieties of Ceylon Tea, with a subtle golden hue and a delicate yet fragrant bouquet.
As with all Ceylon Tea, Nuwara Eliya is available in several different grades. Excluding certain exotic varieties, the most sought-after is whole-leaf orange pekoe (OP); slightly less costly, though still expensive, is broken orange pekoe (BOP). Generally speaking, the smaller the leaf particle size, the stronger and less subtle the tea.
Wedged between the Kandy and Uva districts on the eastern slopes of the hill country, Uda Pussellawa is a small, thinly-populated district almost entirely dedicated to tea cultivation. It boasts no large towns, and part of its uncultivated area is occupied by the Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve, which rises up the peak of the same name to a height of around 2000m (6,400ft). The region is famous for rare wildlife and exotic plant species; leopard still roam its forested hills, and have even been spotted on its plantations from time to time. The Uda Pussellawa region includes the sub-districts of Maturata, Ragala and Halgranoya.
Due to its location, Uda Pussellawa enjoys climatic conditions very different from those of the western plantation regions. As with neighbouring Uva, the district receives the bulk of its weather from the northeast monsoon system, which waters the eastern slopes of the hill country between November and January. The climate is mostly wet and misty, with the Hakgala region receiving rain on an average of 211 days every year. However, the district also enjoys some ‘blow-over’ from the southwest monsoon between June and September. Having deposited their rains on the western slopes of the hill country, these monsoon winds turn desertly dry by the time they cross the central watershed.
Uda Pussellawa estates thus enjoy not one but two ‘quality seasons’, the western as well as the eastern. This is especially the case with teas from the upper part of the district, bordering Nuwara Eliya (which lies immediately to the west), though elevations in Uda Pussellawa are somewhat lower than they are in Nuwara Eliya, ranging from 950m to 1,600m (3,000-5,000ft).
Tasters’ Notes for Uda Pussellawa Tea
The tea of Uda Pussellawa is sometimes compared in character with that of Nuwara Eliya, though it appears somewhat darker in the cup, with a pinkish hue and a hint of greater strength. The eastern quality season from June to September produces the best teas of the year, closely followed by the western season during the first quarter. The dry, cold conditions during this latter period add a hint of rose to the bouquet of a tea known for its medium body and subtle character. Periods of heavy rainfall, on the other hand, tend to produce a tea that is darker in the cup and stronger-flavoured.
Uda Pussellawa produces a variety of leaf sizes and styles, reflecting the relatively broad range of altitudes at which its estates are situated.
Tea with exotic flavor
Agro - climatic zone of Uva covers the eastern slope of the mountains of central Sri Lanka in the District of Badulla . Tea is cultivated and produced in the area since 1867 on the plantations and factories located at an altitude of 1000-1600 meters above sea level. The vast mountain range with numerous valleys includes the areas of different physical and climatic conditions .
Strong dry winds bring specific qualities to the tea leaves and create extraordinary aroma and strong taste , distinctive from varieties of tea in other parts of the island.
Uva tea has a truly unique flavor and is used in many blends .
Areas of Uva
Malvatta / Velimada
Valley covered with tea plantations in the area, is a core region of Uva . The sharp taste of the local tea is known all over the world and is used in special blends . In factories here produced tea with a unique flavor , and many individual plantation owners supply teas to the market only from one plantation.
Delyudera / Hali - Ela / Badulla
Driving through Nuvara_Eliya , down to the district capital of Uva - Badulla , you will be sure to visit areas Delyudera and Hali-Ela , which produces teas with a rich aroma .
Passara / Lanugala
The area is known varieties of black tea , strong and heavy on palate .
District Madulsima is a "dog leg " in the direction of 25 miles from the district Passara . Strong winds generated by the southwest monsoon , give a special flavor to tea . The result is a tea for every taste with a hint of a particular flavor .
Ella / Numunukula
Plantations in the area are on the slopes of the mountain range Namunukula . Tea from this region has a mild flavor and a nice aroma in the plucking period .
Bandarawela / Punyagala
Tea is grown in the area on the high slopes with a fairly cool climate . The winds blew over the plantation , play an important role in creation a light taste to the tea , which is plucked throughout the year.
From the edge of the rock mass you can see the Indian Ocean on a clear day. In this area, a variety of tea is made with delicate shades of Uva tea.
Koslanda / Haldamulla
Strong teas come from the foothills of the central mountain range .
Soft, refreshing tea
Agro - climatic zone Dimbula covers the western slope of the mountain administrative district of Nuwara Eliya. Tea in the area grown and produced since 1867 on the plantations and factories located at an altitude of 1100-1600 meters above sea level. The vast mountain range and the valley gradually rise up from Hatton to Talavakelle , and Nanuoyya and on the western edge to Nuwara Eliya.
South- west monsoon has played a significant role in shaping the quality of tea Dimbula . Cool , dry climate in the period from January to March influences on the quality of the tea , which in different valleys is quite different . During this period, teas are produced with full flavor, with light flavour , fragrant and delicate shades. Tea Dimbula enjoys a high reputation both in domestic market and abroad, thanks to its unique quality, which is associated with the area.
Dimbula possibly one of the most famous names of Ceylon tea .
Areas of Dimbula
Hatton / Dikoya
Strong teas are produced in this hilly medium elevated tea plantations . Processed tea leaves attain it’s unique colour of Dimbula tea at the tea factories..
The area is known as the " Golden Valley" due to the excellent tea bushes which supply fragrant teas throughout the year.
Apkot / Maskeliya
Area at the foot of Adam's Peak , which is a place of religious pilgrimage in the country. Tea grown in this area, is not strong and has unique characteristics . Variety- Apkot is a fragrant tea with a pinkish tinge.
Patana / Kotagala
Most of the plantations in the area are at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level. The combination of magnificent tea bushes and cool climate produces tea with a touch of high-grade Dimbula
Going up in areas Nanu Oya and Lindula ,you ‘ll find yourself among tea plantations. In areas closer to Nuwara Eliya tea is mild and sweet to the taste.
The valley of that name is located in the eastern region and represents a unique combination of conditions - climate and soil that are most favorable for the production of special class of Ceylon tea .
On the way to Kandy,there are plantations which give teas with light pink color shades with a distinctive flavor during the harvest season . Teas on the hilly , moderately elevated slopes are grown in warmer climates and so the taste is quite strong.
A truly refreshing tea is produced in the area with spectacular mountain scenery and breathtaking waterfalls.
Intensely full bodied
Intensely full bodied
Average - sublime climate zone Kandy is in the central part of the country and includes the districts of Kandy , Matale and part of Nuwara Eliya . Since 1867 the tea in the area cultivated and produced at an altitude of 660-1300 meters above sea level. The chain of hills covers a vast area from the city of Kandy - the ancient capital of Sri Lanka and to the areas Kotmale and Gampola .
Plantations in the agro -climatic zone of Kandy are influenced by weather conditions with light winds , which are difficult to break through the mountain areas . Tea in this area is known for a full , robust flavor. Served with diluted milk.
Areas of Kandy District
Pussellava / Hevaheta
This region is a chain of hills that connects with Nilambe and Kandy , Gampaha and Kotmale , and protect the valley from the heavy monsoon rains. Tea from these areas contains saturated color and full bodied taste. Plantations of Hevaheta are exposed to changeable weather conditions during the windy south- west monsoon , and supply tea with a distinctive flavor.
Located on the border of Kandy District . Rich ,strong tea is produced in this area throughout the year . Areas adjacent to the mountain areas Mudukelle , Knukles and Rangala
Smooth & Full bodied
Smooth & Full bodied
Low- elavated agro - climatic zone of Sabaragamuwa is located in the administrative districts of Ratnapura and Kegalla . Tea cultivation and production started in these areas in the early xx , and the plantations spread from the southern plains bordering the Sinharaja rainforest , to the southern foothills of the central mountain range and rise to a height of 800 meters above sea level.
A large amount of rainfall and rapidly growing tea bushes contribute to produce a variety of tea with a soft, juicy tinge, which is much lighter than the tea cultivated in low-lying areas. Grade Sabaragamuwa enjoys a high reputation both at home and abroad, thanks to the unique qualities , and the mild taste and a pleasant appearance.
Sabaragamuwa area is also known for its low elavation tea, with special form of leaves and large granules. Distinct dried black leaves , is one of the distinguishing features of this variety of tea. When brewed, it gives a deep red color with a soft and mellow tinge.
Areas of Sabaragamuwa District
Ratnapura / Balangoda
Sinharaja rainforest south of Ratnapura creates a perfect atmosphere for tea plantations in the area. Strong winds during the southwest monsoon , which could cause significant damage to plantations , are blocked by the forests. The best varieties of tea produced in these areas have found their niche in the tea markets of most European countries
Tea with a distinct , unique flavor
Ruhuna refers to the lowest elevation agro -climatic zone and is located in the southern part of Sri Lanka in the administrative districts of Kalutara , Galle and Matara . Tea plantations stretch from the coastal plains to the southern edge of the Sinharaja rainforest , rising to a height of 600 meters above sea level .Tea history of these areas goes back to the early xx.
The southern regions of the country have exceptional soil conditions , which attribute to the distinct black tea leaves and special strong taste . Sort Ruhuna also has its special form of leaves and large granules . When brewed , Ruhuna tea gives a liquor with rich red color and strong flavor.
Excellent for those who like strong sweet tea with milk or without .
Areas of Ruhuna
Located south of the Ratnapura district Deniyaya tea has the same characteristics of low- growing tea as Ratnapura and Balangoda . Liquor of this tea is softer than other low-growing varieties and at the same time much lighter.
To the south of Deniyaya is Matara , which is another area known for its production of tea. In this area plantations are located near the sea level . Cool winds from the hills , as well as the floodplain of river Nilvala provide fertility of the tea plantations.
Teas from these areas are very famous in the West and in the Middle East. Located at the crossroads of strategic sea routes ,Galle is an important port since XIV century. Since the beginning of cultivation of tea, value of the port Galle has increased significantly.
Ozone Friendly Tea
The Montreal Protocol and After
Alarmed by warnings from the scientists, the world’s nations met in Montreal, Canada in 1987 to decide upon action to protect the ozone layer. Out of this meeting came the Montreal Protocol, signed by 191 countries including Sri Lanka. Under the protocol, methyl bromide use by the Sri Lankan tea industry was progressively reduced, then done away with altogether. As a result of such prompt and effective action by the tea industry and others, Sri Lanka was acclaimed a ‘leader in ozone-layer protection’, receiving the Montreal Protocol Implementers Award in 2007.
Refreshing You... and the Ozone Layer
All tea grown in Sri Lanka is now one hundred percent ozone-friendly. This is a distinction of which no other tea-producing nation can boast. Plans are now being drawn up to impose a total ban on methyl bromide use in applications like export packaging and shipping. As of May 2011, all Ceylon Tea is entitled to bear the new ‘Ozone Friendly Pure Ceylon Tea’ logo, certifying that it has been produced without the use of any ozone-depleting substances. The Tea Board plans to register the logo in thirty tea-importing countries by the end of 2012.
When you reach for a cup of Ceylon Tea, you’re not just refreshing yourself; you’re also helping refresh and renew an environmental resource critically important to all life on Earth
Speciality Tea Grades
Special Tea Gardens
Most factories in Sri Lanka produce teas using timely-tested , orthodox production processes. This leads to the fact that the tea leaves are produced in various sizes ,and then sorted out in various ways sieving. Therefore, this large range of leaf teas consists of grades such as Orange Pekoe to medium leaf types( standards Flowery Pekoe ,BOP, BOP Fannings and Dust). In addition , there is an exciting innovation , such as plucking only tea buds (instead of the traditional two leaves and a bud ) from specially selected tea bushes , and their specialized preparation for the production of highly demanded (after Silver Tips)special grade of Ceylon tea.
Ceylon Green Tea
The word ‘Ceylon’ is normally associated with quality black tea made by the orthodox or traditional method. Green Ceylon tea is less well known. All the same, Sri Lanka exported slightly more than 3,000 tonnes of the latter in 2010. While this was only about a hundredth of the quantity of black tea exported the same year, the reputation for quality enjoyed by Ceylon Tea has quickly come to be shared by the green product as well as the black. The Ceylon green tea industry, though young, is growing rapidly as its products attract a following among the tea-drinking nations of the world. Currently, the main export markets for green Ceylon Tea are the Middle East and the countries of the former Soviet Union, though sales are also growing in Europe, North America and East Asia. In Sri Lanka, too, a taste for green tea is rapidly spreading.
Although it is a relatively new arrival among the export statistics, the history of green tea in Sri Lanka stretches back to the very first experiments in tea cultivation and manufacture made on the island. Though sometimes attributed to Sir Anthony Oliphant, a former Chief Justice of Ceylon, the credit for undertaking these experiments is generally agreed to go to Maurice Worms, a member of the great Rothschild financial dynasty, who planted some China seedlings on his estates in Pussallewa and Ramboda in 1842. This was in the middle of the Ceylon coffee boom, so it is clear that Worms was merely trying out a new hobby. His tea, cultivated and manufactured according to the Chinese method using tea-makers who had been brought over to Ceylon from that country expressly for the purpose, cost over £5 sterling per pound to produce. This being far more than even a Rothschild might be willing to pay for a pound of tea, the experiment was soon abandoned. However, many of the bushes on older Sri Lankan estates, particularly those at high elevations, were grown from China seedlings. As a general rule, Chinese ‘cultivars’ or strains yield a smaller leaf and a subtler flavour than the Assamese ones more common on tea estates in Sri Lanka.
Today, green Ceylon Tea is produced by eleven manufacturers on a number of estates in the mid-grown and high-grown districts. Among the varieties produced on these estates are Young Hyson (including Chun Mee), Sou Mei or ‘longevity tea’, rolled ‘gunpowder’ tea, green tea fannings and Sencha fannings. As can be seen from this list, both Chinese and Japanese tea-making methods are employed in making green Ceylon Tea.
As the pleasures of drinking tea and the healthful properties of the beverage (which offers no less than 25 established health benefits) are discovered by more and more people around the world, green Ceylon Tea looks set to continue
Sri Lanka Tea Exports
Sri Lanka Tea Exports
Sri Lanka may be a small island , but it is one of the major players in the world of tea market. We are the 4th largest exporter of tea and have a share of 18 % of the tea trade in the world. Consumers in more than 130 countries enjoy a cup of Ceylon tea every day. Sri Lanka is also the largest producer and exporter of value-added tea in the world . Commercial capital - Colombo ,can boast about the biggest concentration of wholesale suppliers of tea , compared to any other city . The range of teas, produced here extends from leaf teas ,tea bags teas to different types of flavored teas and teas in gift packages.
Many tea lovers around the world are unaware of the fact that the taste of their favorite brand of tea has been improved by the addition of Ceylon tea. The most astute traders of tea in the world always know how to use pure Ceylon tea to enhance the quality of a blend of different origins . Now most of the tea drinkers prefer blends of Ceylon teas with defined origin. (from a certain plantation or a special grade.)
Currently, more than 50 % of the exports of Ceylon tea goes to Middle Eastern countries . Iran , Iraq , Syria , Jordan , UAE, Saudi Arabia , Libya , Turkey , Tunisia and Lebanon are the leading consumers of Ceylon teas in the Middle East and the Gulf region. Since the mid 90's Russia and the CIS countries have become major buyers of Ceylon teas . In fact, Russia is the largest buyer of Ceylon tea at the moment, and its annual consumption of tea from Sri Lanka is about 45 million kg . Another big buyer of Sri Lankan tea is Ukraine.
The European Union also buys Ceylon tea, and its annual imports from Sri Lanka is about 23 million kg, while Japan , Australia and the Far Eastern countries get the amount of 22 million kg . In North America, the U.S. and Canada together import more than 4 million pounds of Ceylon tea per year.
Tea is a major product of the agricultural exports of Sri Lanka and it covers about 15 % of the total export earnings of the country. It is the third -largest foreign exchange income in the country and reached 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.