Ceylon Tea’s 150 years

Sri Lanka, the fourth-largest producer of tea, celebrates the sesquicentennial of its tea industry this month with a globally synchronised tasting session on July 6.

Accompanying the cuppa would be a biscuit specially crafted for the occasion by one of Sri Lanka’s oldest biscuit makers Maliban Biscuit Manufactories Pvt. Ltd. A Scotsman named James Taylor is reputed to have developed the first commercial plantation on Loolcondera Estate, Hewaheta in 1867.

A first-day cover, a stamp series and a 10-rupee coin will be released. Till August, one programme after another would be rolled out to mark the occasion. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth-largest tea producer with an average output of 300 million kg, accounting for about 5% of world tea output according to Premala Srikantha, Director (Promotion) Sri Lanka Tea Board. The tea hedges are nestled in the hills and the valleys on a sloping terrain on the island’s central highlands and southern foothills, about 1,800 metres above sea-level.

Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Dimbula, Uda Pussellawa, Kandy, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa are the island’s prime tea-growing regions. Ceylon Tea and the seven agro-climatic regional teas have been registered as Geographical Indications.

The country exports nearly all its teas, carving out a place among the world’s top-three exporters. Exports are more in the form of value-added teas like tea packets and bags. A sizeable volume of the exports are as tea-bags and value-added tea exports now account for almost 38 % of the total export volume, Ms. Srikantha said. Ceylon exports its teas to about 150 countries.(Hindu)

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