Ceylon Tea History At a Glance!

The reputation of Ceylon tea is well deserved because of the heavenly, authentic taste it brings around the world. Ceylon tea has a history of around 200 years which is since Sri Lanka was a British colony. The British governors of Sri Lanka are responsible for laying the groundwork and developing the tea industry in Sri Lanka.

In the early 1800s, while a British governor governed Sri Lanka, the Ceylon economy, which was mainly dependent upon the Coffee enterprise, collapsed due to a fungus spread throughout the coffee plantations, which drove the governor to consider alternative measures to develop the economy. Indigo and cinchona were being planted as an experiment to address the failing economy, which obviously failed.

While the Planters’ Association was in a panic because of the situation, James Taylor, a Scot planter, discovered the solution to the problem on his bungalow verandah in 1866. However, the first tea plant to be planted on Sri Lankan soil was not this. In 1824, the first tea plant was planted in Sri Lanka, which was brought from China. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya was the home to this tea plant. James Taylor is the first planter to grow tea commercially, planting tea in his Loolecondera estate.

Soon, the surrounding estate owners began stripping down the dying coffee bushes and started planting tea. Taylor managed to export the first shipment of Ceylon tea out into the global market by producing tea from the knowledge he had gained from one of his visits to India. Because of the great quality and taste of the Ceylon tea, it was inevitable that it gained such high popularity in the market. Ceylon tea’s signature aroma and unique taste were irresistible to tea drinkers worldwide.

Therefore, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce needed to mediate and manage the demanding market for Ceylon tea, and as a result, the very first public Colombo Auction was held in July 1883 at Somerville & Co. This is a milestone in world tea history because Colombo Auction is regarded as the world’s oldest and largest tea auction center.

With the tea exporting industry of Sri Lanka expanding rapidly, the first tea brokering house M/s Pieris & Abeywardena, was established in 1941. Ceylon tea producers learned many ways of producing different types of tea to appeal to a larger market, but the reputation for quality always remained the core signature of Ceylon tea. The tea industry that had steady and dramatic growth since made Sri Lanka became the largest tea exporter in the world, in 2013.

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