Ceylon Tea

Ceylon or Sri Lankan tea is widely acclaimed as the best tea in the world. It has an inherent unique characteristic and reputation running through more than a century. The countries distinct climatic and soil conditions impart a variety of flavours and aromas, synonymous with quality.

Tea production in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is of high importance to the Sri Lankan economy and the world market. The country is the world's fourth largest producer of tea and the industry is one of Sri Lanka's main sources of foreign exchange. The tea industry accounts for 15% of the GDP and generates roughly $700 million annually. Sri Lanka was the world's leading exporter of tea with 23% of the total world export in 1995 but has since been surpassed by Kenya. The tea sector employs, directly or indirectly over 1 million people in Sri Lanka, and in 1995 directly employed 215,338 on tea plantations and estates.

Varieties of Tea

All tea is produced by the Camellia Sinensis plant. Primarily, there are two main varieties of tea; Black & Green, and speciality teas like Oolong, White and Flavoured Teas.

Black Tea

Black tea refers to tea which follows a process of heavily oxidizing and fermenting the tea leaves. It produces a tea that is strong in flavour and contains a high caffeine content. Black tea is not actually black when brewed, but rather the name refers to the colour of the leaves, which are black. When brewed, Black tea has a rich, dark amber colour.

Green Tea

Green tea refers to tea that follows a process of mild oxidation, and no fermentation. Green tea is heat treated to retain its colour and freshness. Generally Green tea has a light taste. Green tea usually has a yellow appearance when brewed. The tea may have a yellow-greenish appearance when water is first poured.

Black Tea Grades Names

Grade names are used in Sri Lanka to classify its teas in terms of size and appearance of a leaf. There are two categories of grades, ‘Leaf grades’ and ‘Smaller broken grades’. Leaf grades refers to the size and appearance of the teas that were produced during Sri Lanka's colonial era, and which are still being used, and Smaller broken grades refer to the modern tea style and appearance.

Leaf grades

  • Orange Pekoe A (OPA) - The largest whole leaf wiry tea.
  • Orange Pekoe (OP) - A whole leaf, well twisted tea showing no tip. OPA and OP generally produce a delicate brew that varies in taste according to the different districts in which it is grown.
  • Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP) - Smaller than OP leaves, also rolled lengthwise.
  • Orange Pekoe 1 (OP 1) - A well twisted leaf tea, generally from the low country region.
  • Pekoe - A curly leaf style giving a light cup and delicate taste.

Smaller broken grades

  • Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) - A smaller or broken leaf OP, which helps to bring out a good balance of taste and strength.
  • Broken Pekoe 1 - The larger leaf of CTC (Crush, Tear & Curl) type manufacture with large spherical particles, with no tip, giving a full bodied bright tea.
  • Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe (FBOP) - A semi-leaf tea with some tip. Generally produces a mellow flavoured taste.
  • Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings (BOPF) - A particle smaller than BOP, popular in the higher elevations. Has a stronger taster than BOP whilst keeping all other characteristics.
  • Dust - The smallest particle of leaf size. Fine granular particles that bring out best strength and body, ideal for commercial brewing.
  • Silver Tips - The finest buds from teas of a special colour which turn silvery colour when dried. Produces a very delicate fragrant brew.



Tea-growing areas of Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya - The champagne of Sri Lankan teas. The highest region that tea is produced in the Island is brewed light and has a bright flavour with a golden, light appearance. Nuwara Eliya tea tastes best drunk with little or no milk.

Dimbula - West of the central mountains of Sri Lanka, Dimbula tea noted for its full bodied strength and powerful aroma. A region that is inundated by the monsoon rains during August and September, the best teas from Dimbulla are from the pluck during the dry months of January and February. Dimbulla tea tastes best with milk.

Kandy - A mid-country tea growing region surrounding Sri Lanka’s last royal capital. Tea from the Kandyan region produces a brew that is full bodied and rich in colour.

Uva - Located east of Dimbulla, this region produces a tea with a distinctive flavour and pungency. Uva tea is also widely used in the preparation of many blends. This regions tea is copper coloured and goes well with milk.

Ruhuna - This region produces the Island’s low-county tea and is located in the Southern area of the country. Teas from Ruhuna have a gentle, subtle, smooth taste and a golden appearance when brewed. It is best drunk with milk.

Click Image to Enlarge
Click Image to Enlarge
flavoured tea picture
Click Image to Enlarge
tea growing areas picture
© Horana Plantations PLC
No. 400, Deans Road, Colombo 10 Sri Lanka.
Telephone: +94 11-2627318, +94-11-262-7000 (Hunting) . Facsimile: +94-11-262-7323
E-Mail: horanap@hplnet.com
Designed and Developed by Iyendra Ratnananther