Ceylon tea is renowned the world over. Ceylon is the colonial name of a little island in the Indian Ocean, now known as Sri Lanka. The tropical island is famous for its beautiful beaches and even more for their warm and welcoming hospitality.
When it comes to tea, the island is a leading tea producer with a diverse range of teas of different tastes and aromas. This is as a result of the different factors in the environment that the tea is grown in, including elevation level, soil type and climate.
A Brief History of Ceylon Tea
Sri Lanka was originally a coffee producing country, but a twist of fate, or nature in this instance, in the form of a fungus, wiped out the coffee crops in 1869. Estate owners had no choice but to diversify into other crops.
The first tea plant arrived in Sri Lanka from China and was planted at the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. In 1867, James Taylor planted 19 acres of tea at an estate known as Loolecondera in Kandy. In 1872, he started a fully equipped tea factory in the same estate and in the same year he made his first tea sale in Kandy. In the following year of 1873, the first international tea sale was made. 23 lb's of tea was sent to an auction in London.
By the end of 1899 there were more than 400,000 acres of tea. That period saw the arrival of Henry Randolph Trafford to Sri Lanka who went onto purchase the coffee estates that were out of use. With his vast knowledge in tea he was known as a pioneer in the tea industry of Sri Lanka.
The production of tea in the country increased and continued to do so with increases in exports, till Ceylon tea became a household name around the world for its quality and taste.
Ceylon Tea Types
Sri Lanka is home to over 188,000 hectares of land with tea. The taste and richness of the tea is world-renowned, and this is as a result of the care and dedication that goes into the making of the tea.
There are three main tea types that are exported out of the country. These are Ceylon Black Tea, Ceylon Green Tea and Ceylon White Tea also known as Silvertips.
The Taste of Tea by Region
Ceylon tea has a unique taste that is distinct to the country. The distinct taste and qualities further vary from region to region. This is as a result of the different climates and elevations present in the different regions where the tea is grown.
The tea from this region is grown in Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. Nuwara Eliya tea is grown at an elevation of 6,200 ft above sea level and has unique refined qualities compared to the tea grown in lower levels. Higher altitudes and low-temperatures translate to slow-grown bushes with small leaves that turn into an orange hue when withered. The tea leaves take on a greenish-yellow colour and produces a pale coloured tea.
Kandyan tea is mid-grown teas and is famous for their flavours. The tea comes in a variety of strengths and styles, depending on the elevation. Lower elevation teas have a larger leaf and a stronger flavour, whereas a higher elevation tea has smaller leaves and a milder flavour. Teas from Kandy have bright infusions of coppery tones and a fair amount of strength and body.
Uva region tea is very distinct and used mostly in blends. The tea grows at an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 ft. Tea produced in this region comes from estates in Bandarawela, Badulla and Haputale. The leaf that is produced is more blackened by withering than tea leaves in other regions. The distinct flavours are a result of the weather conditions in the area. The region produces a large amount of green tea.
Known as the region for low-grown teas, the elevation in these areas are 2,000 ft above sea level. The soil and low elevation means the tea bush grows rapidly in this area and the leaf that is produced is long and turns intensely black in withering. The weather conditions are warm and dry in the region, as a result of which the tea has a burgundy hued colour. The flavour is malty and the aromas are very distinctive.
Teas from this region has a little variation compared to the Southern district counterparts. This is due to a wider range in altitude and the varied climate in the area. The tea produced is similar to that of the Southern province, fast growing and long leafed and black when withered. The resulting tea is similar in appearance too, dark yellow brown with a hint of red. In dryer seasons the tea that is obtained would produce a lighter shade. The difference comes in the aroma, which is completely different to the Southern teas, a hint of sweet caramel is present and the aroma is not quite as strong. The flavour and taste of Ceylon teas from this region are somewhat stronger though.
The Health Benefits of Ceylon Tea
There are a myriad of health benefits in drinking a cup of Ceylon Tea.
Health in a cup of Ceylon Black Tea
The taste, colour and natural goodness of Ceylon black tea is known to provide a multitude of health benefits. The antioxidants in the tea as well as the lesser amount of caffeine in it is known to help with a healthy immune system boost. It is also known to assist as a defense against cancer and heart disease as it helps to lower cholesterol levels and reduce free radicals in the body. It further assists with mental alertness, acuity and stress reduction.
Health in a cup of Ceylon Green Tea
Green tea is known to have more antioxidants than black tea, which means the health benefits from this tea are even more evident. Green tea increases your metabolism, which helps burn unwanted and unhealthy fat in your body. Oral health is another area that is helped by green tea, with bad breath, sore throats and gum disease benefitting from the tea. Brain functions and memory are also areas that benefit from green tea.
Health in a cup of Ceylon White (Silvertips) Tea
White tea, known as Silvertips, has the least amount of caffeine in its composition. It goes through the least amount of processing and therefore retains the majority of its nutrients and is considered to be the healthiest of the teas. White tea is known to improve mental health and is known to reduce stress and anxiety while helping to calm the nerves and prevent depression. Like green tea, it is also known to help with cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, build stronger bones and fight viruses and bacteria in your body.
How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Black Tea
When it comes to black tea, the traditional and classic Supreme Ceylon Single Origin is perfect for any occasion and brewing it is simple and easy.
- Boil water in a kettle.
- Add a single tea bag to the cup and add hot water.
- Let it brew for 3-5 minutes
- Add honey or sugar to taste.