Sri Lanka (called Ceylon until 1972) is an island nation located about 30 km off the south-east coast of India. Sri Lanka produces Ceylon tea which is characterized by its crisp, citrus aroma. There is a good variety of Ceylon tea thanks to the various altitudes and soil conditions where the tea is grown.
Ceylon tea was first planted in 1867 by James Taylor. The tea that was produced from these first plants was very popular and fetched a good price. Thanks to this success, Ceylon tea was grown on many areas of the island and by 1890 Ceylon tea production reached 22,900 tons.
Tea Producing Districts of Sri Lanka
There are six main areas that produce Ceylon tea. They are:
- 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
- Uva, located east of Dimbula
These areas of Sri Lanka produce distinctive Ceylon tea that are categorized by the growing elevations:
- Morawak Korale district tea is grown at up to 2,500 feet
Kandy district tea is grown at 2,500 feet or above
Uva district tea is grown at 2,800 feet or above
Dimbula and Dickoya tea is grown at 3,500 feet or above
Nuwara Eliya tea is grown at 6000 feet or above
Nuwara Eliya, at the highest elevation, produces the finest Ceylon tea.
Although the most famous type of Ceylon Tea is black tea, other types of Ceylon tea are also produced in Sri Lanka. Ceylon green tea, Ceylon oolong tea, and Ceylon white tea have been introduced to the tea market in recent years.
Ceylon white tea is produced by hand and is some of the most expensive Ceylon tea available. Ceylon green tea has a stronger taste than green tea produced in Japan or China, and also has a darker color. Ceylon oolong tea has a distinct taste, although is generally considered inferior to Taiwan or China oolong tea.