Let’s brew a pot of delicious satisfaction. Let’s pour cups of pure enjoyment. Let’s drink to a 150-year heritage of quality and taste. And let us celebrate 150 years of Ceylon Tea! An island’s gift to the world, a beverage so special, its value and appreciation still permeates the world.
When Scotsman, James Taylor planted the first commercial crop in 1867, its delicious taste, aroma and quality gave birth to an iconic brand that paved the way for a multi-million dollar industry. Today, Ceylon Tea epitomises the ‘best tea’ in the world. The Lion logo which symbolises 100% Pure Ceylon Tea is carried across all packaging and is recognised globally, as the ultimate stamp of quality and taste.
The short story about Ceylon Tea
It was during the British era that tea first began to be cultivated and manufactured on the island. Tea from Ceylon soon gained the reputation of being the finest in the world, and tea exports became the mainstay of the colonial economy. Housewives and restaurateurs across the globe grew familiar with the name of the country—learning that its appearance on a tin or packet reliably guaranteed the quality of the tea inside. Independence brought new markets, and production continued to increase. In 1965, Ceylon became the world’s largest exporter of tea—for the first time. And to this day, the island remains one of the largest tea exporters.
It has endured for 150 years of Ceylon Tea and strange as it may seem, the story of Ceylon Tea begins with coffee.
Though records are scant, evidence suggests that the cultivation of tea plants—imported from China—was attempted as early as 1824. Later, Maurice Worms, a member of the Rothschild family of international financiers, planted some China seedlings on Rothschild estates in Pusselawa and Ramboda. He even made tea from the crop using Chinese techniques, though the price, at £5 a pound, was much too high to be competitive.
It was left to a reclusive Scottish planter named James Taylor to succeed with the crop—almost a generation later. Taylor had been experimenting with tea, planting it along the margins of the divisional roads on his coffee estate, Loolecondera. Already in 1866, he had withered the first leaves on his bungalow veranda, trying to emulate the process used by tea planters in Assam, India. By the time the coffee blight struck, Taylor had twenty acres of Loolecondera planted in tea and had shipped his first modest consignment—23 lbs in all— to England. Soon, planters from all over the hill country were visiting Loolecondera to learn how to grow and manufacture tea. Ceylon and its plantation industry were saved.
For over one hundred years thereon, the 150 years of Ceylon Tea Industry has sustained the economy of this country and continues to contribute significantly to it. Though currently, eclipsed by one or two other revenue earning sources, which have emerged in more recent years, it is still one of the highest foreign exchange earners for the country, contributing over USD 1.5 billion.
The Tea Industry also supports approximately 20 percent of the country’s population, through direct and indirect employment, even outsourcing dependent families, which extends to a number of ancillary industries, such as shipping, transportation, printing, packaging, etc. Additionally, tea contributes 15% of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings and generates 65% of export agriculture revenue.
The year 2017 marks 150 years of Ceylon Tea. Sri Lanka’s tryst with tea began in 1867 when James Taylor, a young Scotsman, planted the first crop of tea on the island. Renowned for its fine quality and distinctive taste, Ceylon Tea has been a perennial favorite with tea lovers around the world.
The celebrations planned all around Sri Lanka this year do not only retrace the glorious history and legacy of the island’s most famous export but also underline its continued importance to the country’s present and future.
Click on any point in the time line to read more about the history of 150 years of Ceylon Tea
In 1872, a fully equipped tea factory began operating on the Loolecondera Estate.
In 1873, Ceylon Tea made its international debut when twenty-three pounds of tea produced by James Taylor reached London.
With the development of technologies such as the Sirocco tea dryer in 1877 and the tea-rolling machine in 1880, commercial tea production was now viable.
In 1883, with the backing of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the first of many public Colombo tea auctions was held on the property of Somerville & Co.
In 1884, the Central Tea Factory was built on the Fairyland Estate (Pedro) in Nuwara Eliya.
In 1892, James Taylor, the pioneer of the tea industry in Ceylon, died at the age of 57.
In 1894, the Colombo Tea Traders Association was founded, followed by the formation of the Colombo Tea Brokers’ Association in 1896.
Higher standards were prescribed to prohibit the export of inferior quality teas.
The world’s largest tea bush, which yielded four pounds of tealeaf in a day, was found in Ceylon in 1934.
In 1935, Ceylon became a founding member of the International Tea Market Expansion Board (ITMEB).
In 1941, M/s Pieris & Abeywardena, the first Ceylonese Tea brokerage firm was set up.
In 1944, the Ceylon Estate Employers’ Federation was founded.
In 1955, the cultivation of the first clonal tea fields began. This is a method of controlling plant breeding to produce the best strains of tea.
In 1959, Ad Valorem Tax was imposed on teas sold at the Colombo auctions.
The very first Instant Tea plant was set up by Halssen & Lyon of Germany at Agarapathana in 1963.
In 1965, Sri Lanka became the largest exporter of tea in the world!
To celebrate 100 years of Ceylon Tea, the first International Tea Convention was held in 1966.
In 1976, the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the Janatha Estate Development Board, and the Tea Small Holding Development Authority were established. Export of tea bags too began in this year.
In 1981, Sri Lanka began importing tea for blending and re-exporting.
The production and export of green tea started in 1982.
In 1983, the CTC (Crush, tear and curl) tea processing method was introduced in the country.
In 1993, State-owned tea estates were returned to the private sector.
In 1997, tea exports from Sri Lanka reached 250,000 metric tons.
In 1999, the Sri Lanka Tea Board globally trademarked the lion logo as an emblem of 100% Pure Ceylon Tea.
The production of Ceylon Tea exceeded 300,000 metric tons in 2000.
2001 saw the setting up of a Tea Museum in an old tea factory in Hanthana, Kandy.
In 2002, the Tea Association of Sri Lanka was formed.
In 2011, the Sri Lanka Tea Board obtained the necessary Geographical Indications (GI) certification for Ceylon Tea, meaning that only tea produced in certified regions of the island and meeting stringent quality norms could be marketed as ‘Ceylon Tea’. This was an important step in ensuring quality and preventing counterfeiting. Sri Lanka also became the first country to be recognized as a producer of Ozone friendly tea.
This year, 2017, marks the 150th year of Ceylon Tea. Since James Taylor established the first commercial plantation in 1867, the Sri Lankan tea industry has come a long way, now generating over USD 1 billion in export revenue and employing over 1 million citizens.
Source : http://www.150years.pureceylontea.com/