Sri Lankan tea (known for generations as Ceylon Tea) carries behind it a heritage and success story like no other. It was during the British era that tea first began to be cultivated and manufactured here. Sri Lanka's tea industry dates back to 1867, when the commercial production of tea commenced on Loolcondera Estate, Hewaheta. Scots planter named James Taylor had been experimenting with tea, planting it along the margins of the divisional roads on his coffee-estate, Loolecondera. Already in 1866 he had withered the first leaves on this bungalow veranda, trying to emulate the process used by tea-planters in Assam, India. By the time the coffee-blight struck, Taylor had twenty acres of Loolecondera planted in tea and had shipped his first modest consignment – 23lb. in all – to England. Soon, planters from all over the hill country were visiting Loolecondera to learn how to grow and manufacture tea. Tea from Ceylon soon gained the reputation of being the finest in the world, and tea exports became the mainstay of the colonial economy. In 1965 Ceylon became, for the first time, the world's largest exporter of tea. A product that began as a diversification experiment in 1867 spanning just 19 acres of land has today surpassed all geographical borders to satisfy 19% of global demand.
The tea industry celebrates its 150th Anniversary in 2017. Tea cultivation expands in an area of 203,113 hectares. The Annual tea production of Sri Lanka is over 320kg millions. We produce various types of tea including Orthodox, CTC and Green Tea. Sri Lankan tea industry is dominated by smallholding sector in terms of extent of tea lands and production. Tea smallholding sector is the highest component in the national tea production which provides 72% of total tea production. Today the industry, which directly and indirectly employs some 2 million people, is the country's most important employer. Outsourced facilities and dependent families, as well as the export, broking, shipping, warehousing, packaging, printing, processing and inland transportation sectors are estimated to provide employment for around a further million people. Tea industry is very important in Sri Lankan economy in terms of export earnings and contribution to the Gross Domestic Production (GDP). In year 2015, export earnings of tea industry was US$ 1.34 million and tea industry represented 0.8% in GDP. Sri Lanka has become the world's third largest tea exporter in the world in the year 2015 and Sri Lanka is the number one manufacturer and exporter of Orthodox Black Tea.
Low-grown teas, at an elevation below 2000 feet, produce good colour and strength and are popularly drunk with milk. Mid-grown teas, grown between 2000 to 4000 feet, are rich in flavour with good colour. High-grown teas, from heights of 4000 feet and above, are considered premium, and exude beautiful golden liquor and an intense, powerful aroma. Some estates also produce silver tips that give very pale straw-coloured liquor, best drunk plain.
Tea processing factories are continually improved and upgraded to maintain sufficient technical and hygienic standards through the implementation of ISO 22000, and HACCP. Buyers are thus assured that tea produced in Sri Lanka is not only synonymous with quality, but also conforms to internationally acceptable food safety regulations.
Ceylon Tea is also the cleanest tea in the world in terms of pesticide residues, a fact confirmed by the ISO Technical Committee. Sri Lanka was also the first to achieve the "Ozone Friendly Tea" label recognized under the Montreal Protocol Treaty and is the proud owner of the first Ethical Tea Brand of the World recognized by the United Nations Global Compact.
Due to the superior characteristics of Ceylon tea, it is by far the most expensive black orthodox tea in the world. Therefore, it is increasingly replaced in the global market by low cost cheap teas which are often blended with small proportions of Ceylon tea for quality improvement and frequently marketed under foreign brands. While a few brands of Ceylon Tea have well established global presence, most other brands are struggling to increase their share in competitive global market.
Ceylon Tea manufacturers and Ceylon Tea suppliers from Sri Lanka provide several varieties of Ceylon tea and a range of value added Ceylon Tea products to the global market. Sri Lanka mainly produces Orthodox Tea. In the orthodox process of production, semi dried green shoots are ruptured by rolling, achieved from a rotary movement. The rolling process ruptures and twists the leaves. When tea leaves are crushed and oxidation process begins, which is followed by firing and commonly known black tea is produced. Sri Lanka also produces tea through unorthodox methods, namely; Cut Tear and Curl (CTC), Green tea, Instant tea and Bio tea.
Flavoured tea is also produced in Sri Lanka. High grown teas from Sri Lanka are reputed for their taste and aroma. The two types of seasonal tea produced in these areas - Dimbula and Nuwara Eliya are much sought after by blenders in tea importing countries. Tea is exported to many destinations in various methods such as; Tea Packets, Tea Bags, Tea in Bulk and Instant Tea.