Sure, you love your tea, but do you know where it’s coming from?
There’s a good chance it came from a tiny island country off the coast of India.
Dubbed by Marco Polo as “The Most Beautiful Island in the World,” this is a country that has slipped under the radar for many years. It is recently gaining popularity amongst travelers due to its beautiful weather, landscape, and friendly people.
Not sure where we’re talking about?
For those who aren’t so geographically inclined, we’re talking about Sri Lanka.
Even if you haven’t been anywhere near the country, there’s a good chance you’ve indulged in some of their fine tea.
Ever heard of or drunk Lipton tea? If so, then you’ve had a taste of Sri Lanka tea.
Sri Lanka is renowned for more than just Lipton, however. The tea industry is the country’s largest business, raking in $1.5 billion in foreign exchange each year, not bad for a tiny little island nation.
So how did this minuscule country put itself on the map as one of the world’s leaders in tea production?
Read this article to learn about the development of Sri Lanka tea and how it got where it is today!
A Little Bit of History
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and as it turns out, neither was the Sri Lankan tea industry.
It all started 153 years ago with a single plant, the camellia sinuses, which the British brought over to Sri Lanka (formally known as Ceylon) from China.
Fast forward about 20 years to when James Taylor, the man now known as the pioneer of the Sri Lankan tea industry, planted 19 acres of tea near a city called Kandy.
At the same time that the tea industry began to flourish, the coffee industry, their largest at the time, was being destroyed by a lethal fungus. This paved an easy path for tea to become the country’s main focus.
And the man behind the expansion of the tea industry was none other than Thomas Lipton. He came to make tea affordable and accessible to everyone.
Despite many ups and downs and dark times, (harsh labor conditions, two destructive rounds of land reform, climatic challenges, a tsunami, and a 29-year-old civil war) the tea industry is still very much booming in Sri Lanka.
Knowing how precious tea is to the economy, Sri Lanka is even making moves to “go green” within the industry.
In order to keep Sri Lanka tea thriving, the Tea Smallholding Development Authority (TSHDA) is working with the United Nations Environmental Program to develop sustainable ways to manage the land.
Such developments include encouraging farmers to use minimal or no herbicides and to protect their water sources and surrounding vegetation. In this way so the whole ecosystem can thrive.
Sri Lanka Tea Time
The tourism boom and tea industry have developed a solid friendship over recent years.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka, endless experiences for tea lovers abound. You can choose to visit a tea estate and stay in a converted tea planter’s cottage. Or you can simply enjoy a relaxing cup at a local tea shop.
For an interesting read about tea plantation life in 1920’s Ceylon try The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries.
What’s your favorite tea from Sri Lanka? Drop us a comment below and contact us today if you have any questions about Sri Lanka tea!