Sri Lankan Tea
Sri Lanka is a country off the South Eastern coast of India. It has a wonderful climate as well as its surrounding environment that is conducive to the cultivation of tea. The little island is located between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. It is considered to be tropical or subtropical.
James Taylor was the first to plant tea seeds. He was just an average man who sowed tea seeds on a simple nineteen acres of land. But he was creating history. James Taylor is nicknamed ‘the pioneer of tea”. Mr. Taylor passed away as a relatively young man of fifty seven years old. He was from Scotland.
Tea was not naturally produced in Sri Lanka but coffee was. Coffee, along with cocoa was the most produced crops of the country. Around the 1860’s until approximately 1869 coffee was exported in huge numbers. But around that 1869 date the country of Sri Lanka became somewhat invaded in what was called the coffee rust fungus disease. The coffee rust disease was one that is caused by the fungus, Hemileia vastatrix. This fungus had run ramped through several countries. The last known area that was infected was Brazil in 1970.
Once the fungus came through and wiped out most of the coffee, the coffee estate owners sought out different crops to grow. Mr Taylor began to sow his seeds, and one of estate owners of the Sri Lankan estates liked the idea of the tea. And found out that tea could be grown with ease in the tropical weather.
Mr. Taylor brought tea to the forefront and the country of Sri Lanka held a general election in the year 1956. The election results caused the British to soon begin to leave Sri Lanka and go on to other countries to cultivate tea. Mr. Taylor and the Ceylonese could now enter into the tea arena. The tea production took off.
The environment of Sri Lanka has high elevations. Sri Lankan tea is classified by the height in which it is grown. Low-grown bushes yield approximately 80% of all produced teas in Sri Lanka! Medium-grown tea is next, and thirdly the highest elevation produces the most expensive.
In the 1960’s, this era was considered a golden era. Sri Lanka grew to produce huge amounts of tea. Then in the year 1965, tea in Ceylon set three records for production of tea. In the year 1971, the Sri Lankan government introduced the Land Reform Act. This would give the tea growers and estate owners a chance to control the majority of all of the tea estates. Back up until the date of 1971 all of the tea estates were owned and managed by the British.
Finally at this writing, the year 2002 proved to be the best production and sales year ever.
Little did Mr. James Taylor know that his tiny little seeds of tea not only made a bit of history, but changed the course of an entire country! Sri Lanka still sells tea to this day.