The Story of Ceylon Tea

The story of Ceylon Tea began with the story of  coffee. The coffee story  began  in the early 1820s, a few  years after the defeat of the Royal Kingdom , Kandy.

The colonial economy had been built almost entirely on the coffee enterprise and Sri Lanka became one of the largest Coffee producers of the world but the honour  was very short lived.   Eventually when  the coffee enterprise collapsed, economy too collapsed.

Planters in Upcountry started selling  their Up country Plantations in a panic. This feeling  of panic continued to spread over the colony.

Meanwhile, up in the hills, a solitary  Scottish  planter named James Taylor had been experimenting with a new plant, planting it along the margins of the divisional roads on his coffee-estate, Loolkandura in Rikillagaskada.

The plant was tea. Already in 1866 he had withered the first leaves on this bungalow veranda, trying to imitate  the process used by tea-planters in Assam, India. By the time the coffee-disaster struck, Taylor had twenty acres planted in tea and had shipped his first modest consignment – 23lb., to England. Soon, planters from all over the hill country were visiting Loolkandura Estate to learn how to grow and manufacture tea. Ceylon and its plantation industry were saved by the 21 one year old young Planter.

Nothing came easily. More than 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of land had to be stripped of dead and dying coffee-bushes and re-planted in tea. It was a costly and difficult business, but somehow it was completed.

Within a decade, a new plantation enterprise had been built in Ceylon on the ruins of the old, and the colony was prosperous again.


That’s the story behind the hot cup which is now a part of our lives …..