Sri Lanka is the birthplace of the world-famous Ceylon Tea.
In this article, I’m going to introduce the history of tea in Sri Lanka.
The history of tea in Sri Lanka
The history of tea making in Sri Lanka began with the British colonial policies.
I will introduce the history of tea making in Sri Lanka along the time line.
Was it once a major place for coffee?
Sri Lanka is now well known for its tea production, but it was originally known as one of the world's leading coffee producing regions.
This is because the Netherlands, which at the time had a major influence in Europe, had been cultivating coffee in Sri Lanka since 1658 as part of its colonial policy.
The tropical climate of Sri Lanka made it a great place to grow coffee because coffee can only be grown where there is a lot of rain and sunshine.
As a result, the amount of coffee produced in Sri Lanka increased rapidly.
By the 19th century, Sri Lanka had grown into a major coffee producing region, ranking the first in the world in terms of coffee exports.
The end of coffee farming and the beginning of tea production
Initially Sri Lanka was ruled by the Netherlands, but in 1802, the country was changed to Great Britain.
Even after that, coffee farming flourished in Sri Lanka, but in 1868, the “rust disease” spread to the coffee plantations.
Rust disease is a kind of infectious disease, which is caused by mold with orange spots on the leaves. Plants that are infected with rust eventually die.
Devastated by rust disease, the coffee industry declined and was replaced by the production of tea that was so prevalent in Britain at the time.
The first tea cultivar brought to Sri Lanka was Assam, which was discovered in India in the 19th century.
At that time, India, like Sri Lanka, was dominated by the United Kingdom, and large-scale plantation farming was practiced as a tea producing area.
Sri Lanka was chosen as the land to increase the productivity of the tea industry based in India.
The birthplace of “Lipton”
As mentioned above, Sri Lanka used to cultivate Assam cultivars that were originally brought from India.
Assam cultivars were brought to Sri Lanka by a man named “Thomas Lipton”.
He is the founder of Lipton, a tea company that is still famous today.
He entered the tea business at the age of 39. He bought up all of tea gardens in Ceylon and stared his tea business.
Lipton, a man of great business ability, created the catchphrase “From the tea garden to the teapot” and launched a campaign in various countries.
The campaign was so successful that the names “Ceylon Tea” and “Lipton” spread around the world.