HISTORY OF CEYLON TEA
TEAS FROM THE ISLAND OF SRI-LANKA
It was Scotsman James Taylor who, in 1840, moved to Hill Country of Ceylon (now called Sri-Lanka) to explore the opportunities existing for growing coffee. He not only planted coffee seeds, but also some tea seeds in his plantation. The tea seeds germinated and gave rise to an "ugly little shrub" growing next to his coffee plantation, but provided large yields of leaves. A few seasons later a virulent leaf disease devastated his whole coffee plantation, but the "ugly little shrub" survived, and this gave birth to the tea industry in Sri-Lanka. Soon the steep, mountainous sides of the hill country were carpeted with the vibrant green of the tea bushes. From these humble beginnings, Ceylon Tea now has become one of the world's favorite beverages.
Sri-Lanka's finest teas are produced mainly from the bushes that grow 4000 feet above sea level. 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. Most of the Ceylon tea gardens are situated at elevations between 3000 and 8000 feet. In the hot steamy plains and foothills, the tea bushes flush every seven to eight days and are picked all year round. The finest teas are gathered from June to the end of August in the eastern districts and from the beginning of February to mid-March in the western parts of the country.
The tea plant named Camellia Sinensis is the cultivated variety of the tea. The tea leaves are mostly hand plucked. When the plant is plucked the top two leaves and a bud are cut. To make one Kg of black tea, approximately 4Kgs of tea leaves are required. One tea plant produces about 70Kg of black tea per year. A tea plant will produce tea for about 50 years, provided the plant is cultivated in a suitable climate with minimum annual rainfall of 1140 to 1270 millimeters, and the soil acidic with a Ph value between 5.4 and 5.8.
The scented and spiced teas are made from black tea. "Scented tea look like any other tea," says FDA chemist and tea expert Robert Dick. The scent is sprayed on, while the flavor is added with just about anything like peach, vanilla, and cherry. While the spiced teas on the other hand usually contain pieces of spices cinnamon, nutmeg, orange or lemon peels.