In the year 1867, British citizen James Taylor planted the first tea shrub in the golden soil of Sri Lanka. And from that little plant sprouted a mammoth industry that revolutionized the way the world regarded a country and sustained a struggling economy for many centuries. Today, tea is the preferred beverage across every single household in Sri Lanka and Ceylon tea is a celebrated beverage all across the world.
Tea is a symbol of hospitality in the small island nation. Indeed this aromatic amber fluid is deeply intertwined with the culture of the locals and many rarely begin the day without first treating themselves to a steaming cup of tea. Every house, hotel or establishment you visit in the country, will often offer you this delectable refreshment.
Many of the sloping mountains of the central and southern regions of the country are carpeted in the lush green splendour of flourishing tea estates. These spectacular plantations flank winding mountain roads, creating breathtaking sights to enthral visitors. You will often see tea-pluckers too, clad in vibrant sarees stationed amidst sheets of emerald sheen.
The tea production in Sri Lanka involves first plucking the tea leaves by hand. The tea-pluckers work tirelessly, often in harsh conditions to gather fully grown leaves in the baskets that they carry on their backs. These baskets are then taken to the factory where the tea leaves undergo drying and rolling procedures. The tea is then graded and packed.
Ceylon tea can be broadly classified into three sections, namely, low-grown, medium-grown and high-grown. These classes are based on the elevations on which the tea is grown.
If you are keen to learn more about the tea production in the island, you can have a tea factory tour arranged through a reputed tour operator in the island. Many tea factories have stylish little boutique shops that sell different varieties of Ceylon tea. You will even be able to relish a cup of tea yourself while munching on some delectable delicacies and feasting your eyes on magnificent vistas of luxuriant tea estates!