Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is famous for its tea plantations with tea production contributing to over 2 per cent of Sri Lanka’s GDP. Sri Lanka's tea sector employs over 1 million people, and it is the fourth-largest producer of tea in the world and second biggest exporter of tea after Kenya.
Also Read: What is Ceylon White tea?
But what is it about Sri Lanka that makes it so ideal for tea production and what makes Sri Lanka tea so special?
The humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall of Sri Lanka’s central highlands provide a climate that flavours the production of high-quality tea. Matara, Galle and Ratnapura are the districts have low elevation, high rainfall and warm temperatures so the tea produced from these regions have special properties.
What are the different varieties of Ceylon tea or Sri Lankan tea?
Sri Lankan tea is also popularly known as Ceylon tea. It is found in three different varieties:
1. Sri Lanka black tea (Ceylon Black tea)
Ceylon Black tea is one of the most special kinds of Sri Lanka tea. It is popular for its crisp aroma reminiscent of citrus. It is used both unmixed and in blends with other varieties of Sri Lanka tea. There are numerous estates in Sri Lanka which vary in altitude and taste that produce this variety of tea.
2. Sri Lanka Green tea (Ceylon Green tea)
Sri Lanka Green tea is grown in Idalgashinna in Sri Lanka's Uva Province. They have a fuller body and more pungent, rather malty, nutty flavour characteristics of the teas. Overall, the green teas from Sri Lanka have their own characteristics. They tend to be darker and their flavour is richer.
Sri Lanka is a minor producer of green teas and its green teas and is a unique experience as they taste different from green tea produced in most other markets. Green tea produced in Sri Lanka is mostly exported to North Africa and Middle Eastern markets.
3. Sri Lanka White tea (Ceylon White tea)
Sri Lankan White tea is also known as “Silver Needle” as they are highly prized. Their overall price per kilogram is significantly higher than other varieties of teas. White tea in Sri Lanka was first grown in Nuwara Eliya near Adam’s Peak between 2,200–2,500 meters.
What makes white tea so special is that it is grown, harvested and rolled by hand. Then, the leaves dried and withered in the sun. It is different from other forms of teas in terms of its taste as well. It has a delicate, very light liquoring with a touch of pine & honey and a golden coppery infusion. Some varieties of white tea are also grown at the Handunugoda tea estate near Galle in the south of Sri Lanka.
Apart from the types of tea, Sri Lanka tea is also classified based on the elevations and districts.
The teas tend to put into three main categories; low-grown, medium-grown and high-grown. This is based on the various elevations of the plantations, that range from 2,000 to 5,000 ft. Each level of tea plantation produces a unique flavour and character, from light and delicate to rich and full-bodied brews.
Also Read: What is so special about Ceylon tea?
For instance, Dimbula tea, one of the most famous kinds of Ceylon teas are grown at an elevation of 5,000 feet in central Sri Lanka. It is different from the rest as it has a crisp strong flavour and golden orange colour. The complex topography of the region produces a variety of microclimates.
Then there is Kandy tea, which takes its name from the Kandi region where it’s grown. It is renowned for its broad range of strengths and styles. They range in flavour depending on the altitude and whether or not the plantation is sheltered from monsoon winds. All are quite flavoursome. Kandy teas produce a bright infusion with a coppery tone and are strong and intensely full-bodied.
Uva Sri Lankan tea is grown on the eastern side of the country’s Central Mountains. This type of tea has a distinctly smooth taste because of the chemical changes that occur in the leaves due to a steady mixture of heavy rain and hot temperatures.
The Uva district is exposed to the winds of both northeast and southwest monsoons. This endows the tea grown here with a special, peculiar character and exotically aromatic flavour.
Nuwara Eliya tea district is one of the best-known of Sri Lanka’s tea-growing district. It is the most mountainous and has the highest average elevation. Combined with low temperature, this area is one of the best tea growing areas of Sri Lanka.
Ruhuna, Uda Pussellawa and Sabaragamuwa are other popular tea growing regions of Sri Lanka. All of them offer different varieties of Sri Lanka tea flavours.
The teas of Ruhuna are “low-grown”. They are cultivated at an altitude less than 600m which comprises of vast sub regions from coastal plains to the Southern edge of Sinharaja Rain Forest. Full-flavoured black tea is a unique speciality of Ruhana region.
Similar to Ruhuna, Sabaragamuwa produces a fast-growing bush with a long leaf. It is Sri Lanka’s largest district.
The Uda Pussellawa district is situated close to Nuwara Eliya, so its tea is often compared to that of its neighbour. But it is darker in the cup, with a pinkish hue, of greater strength, and exquisitely tangy.
Thus, every region in Sri Lanka yields a slightly different type of tea with its own distinguishable taste.
Where can I buy Ceylon Tea?
A wide range of Pure Ceylon teas are available at teakruthi. At teakruthi, you can find black, white as well as green tea from various famous districts of Sri Lanka.
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