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Sri Lanka celebrates one big Tea Party
October 14, 2017, 5:00 pm
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Not just romantic landscapes, rising mountains, lush forests, golden beaches and great food, Sri Lanka is also known for some of the finest tea produced in the world under the brand Ceylon Tea.

One cannot miss the diverse flavours of tea that Sri Lanka produces in its three distinct agro-climatic zones that are each unique to the area it is produced. Known as a tea connoisseur’s paradise, the country’s reliance on tea as a major source of income is evident by the importance the industry is given by the government.

Sri Lanka recently held one of the biggest ‘Tea Parties’ in the world that we were fortunate to experience. Celebrating 150 years of the Tea industry, the International Tea Convention saw more than 300 specialists from the global tea trade attend and deliberate on the various aspects of global tea industry.

Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinge in his remarks to the large gathering applauded the industry’s contribution to the economy of the country and urged the industry to innovate and use best practices in its efforts to further expand. He pointed at some of the challenges facing the 150-year old industry that now needed new ideas and techniques.

Navin Dissanayake, the minister of Plantation Industries, took the opportunity to thank the entire industry for their contribution to the economy over the years. In his address he retraced the history of the growth of the industry and also factors that lead to Sri Lanka’s prominence as a tea producer. Giving an honest overview, Dissanayake did not mince words to highlight some of the shortcomings that needed to be addressed. While the industry needed overhauling it was headed in the right direction with some bold decisions being taken during the past few years, said the minister.

Sri Lanka tea market is characterised by a growing share of small tea growers, with their share of the tea market being 72 percent and accounting for up to 40 percent of tea exports. Moreover, the Colombo tea auction still holds a significant position in the world with almost 6.5 million kilogrammes of tea auctioned annually.

TEA FESTIVAL

Celebrating Tea may not be as easy as one can imagine, but the Sri Lankan Tea Board headed by its chairman Dr. Rohan Pethipagola and his able associates made it an unforgettable Tea Party. The colorful and spectacular Ceylon Tea ceremony with professional dancers synchronised movements and music gave guests a glimpse of the hospitality and tradition that Sri Lanka is famous for. The ceremony was a fascinating experience that highlighted Ceylon Tea for the unique and special qualities it had.

Sri Lankan tea has come a long way in the 150 years of its existence, and, since its commercialisation, the industry has transformed the lives of millions of people and helped them overcome challenges by turning them into opportunities. But as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe pointed out, the 150th anniversary was an excellent occasion to reflect and remind the world once again about tea and the values that stand behind it, as well as the people who do everything to ensure that the quality of Sri Lankan tea is preserved and increased.

HISTORY

The heritage of Ceylon Tea is a history that Sri Lankans proudly narrate. A Young Scotsman, James Taylor who planted the first tea bush brought from Assam on Loolecondera Estate in 1867 over 10 acres of tea, as an alternative to coffee, over a five year period. In 1872 the first shipment was exported giving birth to the world famous Ceylon Tea brand and the beginning of a billion dollar industry that is treasured to this day.

Diverse Flavors

Sri Lankan Tea is characterised by seven regions namely NuwaraEliya, Uda Pussellawa, Dimbula, Uva, Kandy, Sabaragamuwa and Ruhana. This diversity gives the country an edge as it allows them to develop speciality teas that cater to the discerning tastes of tea drinkers around the globe.

A Tea like no other

The country has come a long way since its first tea export and today Sri Lanka is the largest exporter of Black Orthodox tea in the world, accounting for 6.2 percent of world tea production. It has a share of 16.9 percent in global tea exports. The unique taste and quality are just some of its features, grown in pristine environments in a salubrious climate, Ceylon Tea is the cleanest tea in the world grown according to stringent environmental practices and the only tea awarded ozone friendly status by the Montreal Protocol.  

Pure pleasure in a cup

A good cup of tea is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Tea revives and refreshes the spirit; it improves mood, disposition and blood circulation. Research is continuously uncovering the numerous health benefits of tea. The polyphenols are found in most plants, tea is unique in having huge amounts of polyphenols. Tea is good for heart and immune system. It helps reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer. It promotes healthy teeth. Tea also aids digestion contains low quantities of sodium and can be drunk by those with high blood pressure. It keeps one hydrated and is also said to slow the ageing process.

Leaf to Cup

The process of producing tea is one that requires both craftsmanship and technique. Plucking of leaves is done manually by workers; as they pass between rows of tea bushes they ensure only two leaves and one unopened leaf bud are selected to ensure the final product is of required quality. These leaves then go through a process called withering, which takes away the moisture, followed by rolling, which breaks up the cell structure of the leaves and release the natural juices and enzymes which give tea its characteristic flavour. This process is followed by fermentation also known as oxidization, turning the leaves into coppery brown color through absorption of oxygen. The leaves are then passed through a process called firing by passing the tea through a hot air chamber. The tea is then passed though the final stage of grading and sorting before being packed.

Tea Tasting

The art of tea tasting is an acquired and highly prized skill. All tea produced in Sri Lanka is assessed by expert tea tasters and teas are required to conform to ISO 3720 standards. No tea that is without this certification can be exported or even released to the domestic market in Sri Lanka.

 

 

 

 

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