Sri Lanka famous for top-quality Ceylon tea—but it began with coffee, still a favourite start-the-day brew


Ceylon tea is famed around the world for its quality and taste—and familiar to tens of thousands of tourists who visit the Hill Country tea estates in Sri Lanka every year.

The Halifax Herald in Canada reports that “the story of Sri Lankan tea is steeped in history”—but it started with coffee, which only ended when blight decimated the industry in the mid-1800s.

“Enter tea, which had been brought in from China earlier in the century simply as a specimen for display in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya.”


The transition to tea production “was helped along by the efforts of Scotsman James Taylor, who had already planted the first acres of tea in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, in 1867”.

“This was the launch of an industry that soon saw the Thomas Liptons of the world purchasing huge tea estates and shipping the product back to England.

“Skip ahead to 1965 and Sri Lanka had grown to be the largest tea producer in the world.”


Many of the Hill Country tea estates now offer public tours of fields and factories, with feature tasting areas, restaurants, gift shops and boutique hotel accommodations.

Writes the Herald’s Pat Lee: “You don’t have to be in the country long to appreciate its intimate relationship with tea, from the ubiquity of it in airport shops, the offer of it at every respite or meal, or the waves of tea bushes covering acre after acre of land.”

Orange pekoe is a favourite, especially in the morning, and is one of the most popular, being exported to many countries around the world.

Read more here.

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