Varying elevations and climates area two of the most contributors to the style of Ceylon Tea. As of gift, four-dimensional of the country’s land is roofed by Tea Plantations. nearly each single plantation found in Ceylon boasts distinctive tea-growing conditions. These area unit unfold throughout several regions with every providing its own distinct take on Ceylon Tea.
The Central Province of Ceylon hosts a number of the known tea-growing regions. This includes metropolis, Nuwara Eliya, and Dimbula. several different regions will be found within the Uva province. what is more, there’s Galle within the Southern Province and Ratnapura within the Sabaragamuwa Province.
The best Ceylon Teas are harvested from June to August in most eastern districts and from the beginning of February to mid March in most western districts. To understand the wonderful tasting notes of some of our most popular Ceylon Teas, let’s explore the main tea-growing regions and what they have to offer:
In 1867, he planted the first seeds of tea on his plantation. His decision, still celebrated today, proved to be a smart one and his fascination for tea grew further. He began manufacturing tea at his home, rolling it by hand and firing on clay pots. Later, he built the first tea factory and, even more impressively, constructed the tea producing machines by himself – based on what he read and learnt, and a fair deal of experiments. Taylor was admired by the locals, workers, and fellow coffee planters who followed his steps to tea production, one by one.
Historically, the district of Kandy is where it all started for the Ceylon Tea industry. The region and the city of Kandy (incidentally the regional capital) itself lie in the midst of the Kandy plateau. But though the capital nestles in a relatively low-lying valley, the estates themselves are dotted about the surrounding hills in Nilambe, Hantane, Pussellawa, Gampola, and Hewaheta.
Ceylon Tea from the Kandy region is often described as “mid-grown”, with the altitude of cultivation ranging between 650m and 1,300m (2,000-4,000ft). Most Kandy district estates lie on the western slopes of the nearby hills, so their taste is largely influenced by the ‘western quality season’, meaning that the best Ceylon Tea is produced during the first quarter of the year when cool, dry weather sets in across the region.
The range of flavour and profile depends on the altitude and whether the plantation is sheltered from monsoon winds, but most have a notably bold taste. Kandy Teas are predominantly strong and intensely full-bodied. They are a favourite for many tea connoisseurs.
Located between two high plateaus in the Central Province, the district of Dimbula is known for some of the best tea plantations in Sri Lanka. The name of this district is derived from the valley that lies in the heart of the region. It’s also surrounded by the sub-districts of Bogawantalawa, Dickoya, Kotagala, Maskeliya, Nanu-Oya and Talawakelle.
The area boasts rich wildlife; elephants by the thousands, deer and sambhur by the tens of thousands, and eagles soaring above its beautiful, iconic landscape. Dimbula was also one of the first districts to experiment with tea growing. In fact, to this day, most residents to be found in Dimbula are themselves plantation workers. Teas grown on these plantations are characterised as “high-grown”; the regional definition specifies an elevation of between 1,100m and 1,600m (3,500-5,000ft.), but in practice, the region’s estates all stand at an altitude of over 1,250m (4,000ft). The complex topography of the region produces a variety of microclimates which, in turn, offer varying flavours in tea. Most, however, are described as refreshingly mellow.
Nuwara Eliya Tea
The landscape surrounding the Nuwara Eliya district is often described as rugged and mountainous. It also has the highest elevation of any tea-growing region in Sri Lanka, with most plantations found at 1,900m (6,200ft) above sea level. Nuwara Eliya is located west of Uva and north of Dambulla. Once almost entirely inaccessible due to the precipitous, jungle-clad terrain surrounding Nuwara Eliya, the area was effectively uninhabited when discovered by a renowned British explorer in 1818. Today, the air is cool and refreshing; the winds are scented with eucalyptus and wild mint.
The region has a unique climate which, when combined with its ideal tea-growing terrain, produces a tea that is recognised by many connoisseurs as among the finest, if not the finest in Sri Lanka. These Ceylon Teas boast a delicate, floral fragrance and a light, brisk flavour. Sought after grades include whole-leaf Orange Pekoe (OP) and Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP).
Technically a province unto itself, Uva is known for producing Ceylon Teas with distinctively sweet flavours and woody aromas. It’s considered Sri Lanka’s most remote province despite the fact that Kandy and Nuwara Eliya are not too far away (as the crow flies). Most amazing of all, access to its provincial capital, Badulla, is only possible over steep, winding mountain roads. To this day, Uva remains sparsely populated, and as a result, its economy is largely dependent on tea production.
These teas are usually grown at an elevation of 900m and 1,500m (3,000-5,000ft). Uva is often exposed to the winds of both northeast and southwest monsoons. These unique conditions are believed to be the main contributor to the unmistakable character of Uva-grown Ceylon Black Tea. In addition to this, Ceylon Green Tea is now grown in Idalgashinna, and in recent years, the Uva district has also experimented with White Tea production. Incidentally, the best harvests are from August to October.
Due to its location, Uda Pussellawa enjoys climatic conditions very different from those of the western plantation regions. As with neighbouring Uva, the district receives the bulk of its weather from the northeast monsoon system, which waters the eastern slopes of the hill country between November and January. The climate is mostly wet and misty, with the Hakgala region receiving rain on an average of 211 days every year. However, the district also enjoys some ‘blow-over’ from the southwest monsoon between June and September. Having deposited their rains on the western slopes of the hill country, these monsoon winds turn desertly dry by the time they cross the central watershed.
Uda Pussellawa estates thus enjoy not one but two ‘quality seasons’, the western as well as the eastern. This is especially the case with teas from the upper part of the district, bordering Nuwara Eliya (which lies immediately to the west), though elevations in Uda Pussellawa are somewhat lower than they are in Nuwara Eliya, ranging from 950m to 1,600m (3,000-5,000ft).
Ruhuna was a latecomer to tea. It was only around 1900 that the first estates were opened up among the foothills of the central mountain massif, at a convenient distance from Galle and Matara with their road and rail connexion to the capital. At a time when most of the plantation enterprise was British-owned and -run, Ruhuna became an early bastion of the Ceylonese planting fraternity – a group that included not only ‘tea men’ but also those planting in rubber and other crops.
During the early 1970s, political and economic changes in the Middle East resulted in a greatly increased market for the strong, full-flavoured black teas that are a Ruhuna speciality. This resulted in a boom, the effects of which have lasted more or less until the present day. Ruhuna is now, along with Sabaragamuwa, one of the key tea-producing districts of Sri Lanka, producing its own characterful varieties. Between them, the two provinces account for around 60% of the total production of the island.
Yet Sabaragamuwa is also Sri Lanka’s biggest tea-growing region or ‘district’, whose relative importance has increased since the expansion of markets for Ceylon Tea in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. The teas of Sabaragamuwa, like those of Ruhuna, are mainly low-grown. Its estates range in elevation from sea level to around 800m (2,500ft). The highest estates lie just below the boundaries of the Sinharaja and Peak Wilderness nature reserves and share in the microclimatic conditions produced by the rainforests, cloud forests and high, grassy plains endemic to this region.
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As a result, they produce tea of a somewhat different character to that grown at lower elevations in the district. Some of these estates receive the highest rainfall of any in the plantation districts. Other upper Sabaragamuwa estates receive some weather from the nearby Uva climatic system, which affects the character of the tea they produce in an entirely different way.
The Sabaragamuwa tea-growing district covers most of the western and south-western faces of the central mountains of Sri Lanka. The terrain is hilly, with numerous small valleys cut into the hillsides by streams and rivers draining the upper massif. Copiously watered by the southwest monsoon, it features climatic conditions typical of tropical rainforest: hot and humid in the open, moist and cool where tree cover is thick.
Despite being thickly populated, it remains a green and pleasant land, rich in natural beauty. The most famous of its many places of interest is Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada, a 2,200m (7,000ft) mountain peak, conical and symmetrical, at the summit of which a giant, intricately-decorated and detailed footprint has been carved into the rock. Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims all venerate this relic, whose origins are lost in the mists of antiquity. Adam’s Peak has been a place of pilgrimage and visitation for longer than anyone can remember, even though the climb is steep and was formerly very dangerous.