Tea from Sri Lanka falls into three categories: low-grown (on estates up to an elevation of 2,000ft); medium grown (on elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 ft); and high grown (elevations above 4,000 ft). Each level produces teas of unique character. By blending teas from different areas of the island and at varied elevations, Sri Lanka can offer a very wide range of flavor and colour. Some are full-bodied, others light and delicate, but all Ceylon blends will have brisk, full flavors and bright golden colour. Because of its geographical location, tea can be plucked in Sri Lanka all year round – the west and east of the island are separated by central mountains so that as each region’s season ends, the other begins. Below are descriptions of the three high grown regions.
The most famous of Ceylon teas, Dimbula is cultivated on estates first planted with tea
when their coffee crops failed in 1870. Grown 5,000ft above sea level, all Dimbula teas
are light and bright in colour with a crisp strong flavour that leaves the mouth feeling
fresh and clean. Today, it forms part of the high-grown zone of central Sri Lanka which
includes Dickoya and Nuwara Eliya.
Example – Kenilworth Estate This tea has long wiry beautiful leaves that give an exquisite, almost oaky taste with good body and strength.
Uva is a fine flavoured tea grown at altitudes between 2,000ft and 4,000ft above sea
level on the eastern slopes of the central mountains in Sri Lanka. It has a bright,
deep amber colour when brewed, with the brisk and crisp, strong Ceylon flavour.
These teas are also used in Ceylon blend and make an ideal morning drink or an after-lunch tea.
Example – St James Estate This is a copper-coloured infusion with a very smooth, pronounced taste and a wonderful aroma. It is a perfect breakfast or day time tea.
Nuwara Eliya teas are light and delicate in character, bright in colour and with a fragrant flavour.
Their flavour is heightened when taken with lemon rather than milk.
Example – Nuwara Eliya Estate This tea has a bright brisk flavour and a wonderful perfume, good to drink at any time of day with just a dash of milk
Ceylon tea is a prized form of black tea from Sri Lanka. It has a golden color and rich, intense flavor which many tea consumers greatly appreciate, and it is used straight as well as in tea blends. Sri Lanka is one of the largest tea producers in the world, and Ceylon tea can be found all over the world as a result. Particularly fine highland varieties can also get quite costly, as they have a rich taste and strong aroma favored by some consumers. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon under colonialism, and the name has stuck for the tea. Tea was first introduced to the country as a crop in 1867, to replace a devastated coffee crop. Tea producers quickly began to produce tea with a unique flavor and color, and Ceylon tea began to experience high demand. The majority of Ceylon tea is grown in the highlands of the country, with lower elevation teas being used as filler in tea blends. Six regions of Ceylon produce tea: Galle, Rathnapura, Kandy, Dimulla, Uva, and Nuwara Eliya. Ceylon tea is often identified by the region of grown in, and each area’s tea tastes distinctly different, with the best harvests coming in February, March, August, and September. The tea leaves are carefully selected for optimal flavor and meticulously oxidized to make classic black tea. After oxidation, the tea is roasted and prepared for sale at packaging facilities. Since Ceylon tea is associated with quality, the Sri Lanka Tea Board brands genuine Ceylon tea with a stamp of a lion carrying a sword. This lion logo is only used on teas grown and packed in Sri Lanka, and the teas are also tested for quality to ensure that they adequately represent the tea heritage of Sri Lanka. This marketing measure was undertaken to support a gourmet market for Ceylon tea, which tastes best when brewed in loose-leaf form. Since many consumers prefer teabags for convenience, the Tea Board wanted to increase the appeal of their product with a cohesive brand and a luxury feel. Ceylon Tea is exported as loose leaf tea and it can also be ordered through specialty importers, or enjoyed in tea blends which combine several varieties of tea, including Ceylon tea. The tea classically brews strong, dark, and flavorful, with complex hints of orange and spice. Like other black teas, Ceylon tea contains caffeine.
Ceylon black tea is one of the country's specialities. It has a crisp aroma
reminiscent of citrus, and is used both unmixed and in blends. It is grown
on numerous estates which vary in altitude and taste.
Ceylon green tea is mainly made from Assamese tea stock. It is grown in
Idalgashinna in Uva Province. Ceylon green teas generally have the fuller
body and the more pungent, rather malty, nutty flavour characteristic of
the teas originating from Assamese seed stock. The tea grade names of most
Ceylon green teas reflect traditional Chinese green tea nomenclature, such as
tightly rolled gunpowder tea, or moreopen leaf tea grades with Chinese names
like Chun Mee. Overall, the green teas from Sri Lanka have their own characteristics
at this time – they tend to be darker in both the dry and infused leaf, and their
flavour is richer; this could change in the future. As market demand preferences change,
the Ceylon green tea producers start using more of the original Chinese, Indonesian,
Japanese and Brazilian seed base, which produces the very light and sparkling bright
yellow colour and more delicate, sweet flavour with which most of the world market
associates green teas. At this time, Sri Lanka remains a very minor producer of green
teas and its green teas, like those of India and Kenya, remain an acquired taste. Much
of the green tea produced in Sri Lanka is exported to North Africa and Middle Eastern markets.
Ceylon white tea, also known as "silver tips" is highly prized, and prices per kilogram are
significantly higher than other teas. The tea was first grown at Nuwara Eliya near Adam's
Peak between 2,200–2,500 meters (7,218–8,202 ft). The tea is grown, harvested and rolled by
hand with the leaves dried and withered in the sun. It has a delicate, very light liquoring
with notes of pine & honey and a golden coppery infusion. 'Virgin White Tea' is also grown at
the Handunugoda Tea Estate near Galle in the south of Sri Lanka.
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