Tea Secrets

A Blink to Ceylon Tea : Low Grown, Mid Grown, High Grown

Ceylon teas are considered to be some of the finest in the world. Various characteristics, such as taste, flavor, colour, strength, aroma, differentiate Sri Lankan tea from other teas. Depending on where the tea is grown, Ceylon tea can also look different.

Depending on the elevation of the growing area, tea plantations in Sri Lanka are divided into three main regions. These regions are known as “Ceylon High Grown”, “Ceylon Mid Grown” and “Ceylon Low Grown”.

A Blink to Ceylon Tea

Tea Cultivation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon until 1972, is an island nation off the coast of India. Because of its shape and location, it is also called the “teardrop of India”.

As one of the largest producers and exporters of tea, Ceylon primarily produces the traditional processed black tea called orthodox black tea.

Ceylon Tea Regions

Sri Lanka has a predominantly tropical climate. The island consists primarily of flat land, with mountains reaching a height of about 2500 meters only in its central southern part.

Ceylon High Grown Tea

This mountainous region is home to the so-called “Ceylon High Grown” tea plantations.

Tea from well-known plantations in this region is called Ceylon High Grown Tea. “Nuwara Eliya” and “Dimbulla” are famous Ceylon High Grown teas that provide fresh and delicate infusions.

Ceylon Medium Grown Tea

Medium Grown Tea plantations are located in the valley surrounded by mountains.

There are tea plantations in this area known as “Candy” because their tea is particularly fresh and sweet.

Ceylon Low Grown Tea

Finally, there is a tea zone called “Ceylon Low Grown” in the plains, surrounded by forest, towards the coast.

Ceylon’s Low Grown region is home to the highly coveted Ruhuna tea gardens, which are strong, aromatic, and highly prized black teas.

How Coffee Production Led to Tea Production in Sri Lanka

Ceylon, or Sri Lanka, in some ways has a similar history to India.

The great European maritime powers dominated Sri Lanka from 1505, just as they dominated India. Foreign powers were primarily attracted by the spice crops, particularly the cinnamon of Ceylon.

It was the Portuguese who first arrived on the lush island, followed by the Dutch, and the British ceded it to them in the late 1700s.

Interestingly, however, the history of tea in Ceylon begins with coffee!

Coffee Cultivation and Trade in Sri Lanka

It was the British who discovered native coffee plants growing luxuriantly in the hilly center of the island.

The British, sniffing a bargain, decided to sell off acreages suitable for large-scale cultivation at a few cents per acre to farmers and traders. Using governmental funds, they offered incentives to local farmers.

Read More: Assam Tea: Origin, Characteristics and Preparation

It was, however, the construction of the infrastructure which boosted the coffee trade from Sri Lanka. Building a network of roads, including the key route from Kandy to Colombo allowed Sri Lankan coffee farmers to ship their produce to England by sea.

Tea Cultivation Replaced Coffee

Tea Cultivation Replaced Coffee

It was during the 1870s, however, that the coffee plantations were devastated by a fungal disease called Hemileia vastatrix, also known as coffee rust.

The coffee growers were forced to convert the land to other plantations. To replace coffee, they tried cocoa and cinchona, but both failed, so the remaining Ceylon farmers turned to tea.

Cultivation of tea turned out to be very fruitful. London received the first shipment of Ceylon tea in 1873, which was as little as about 10kg.

The spread of tea in Sri Lanka has increased greatly since then. As a result, Ceylon tea is now considered one of the most popular and appreciated teas in the world.

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