A Quick Guide to Ceylon Tea
Affectionately dubbed as ‘tea paradise’, Sri Lanka produces teas of varying tastes and aromas, based on their elevation level, soil type, and climate. Read through our quick guide to find out more about the regions, history, and benefits of Ceylon tea!
What is Ceylon Tea?
Ceylon tea merely refers to the tea produced from the Camellia Sinensis tea bush grown in Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon before its independence. Ceylon tea has a distinct taste as its flavour varies depending on where the tea was grown.
Even though Ceylon tea is very popular, and many people claim to produce real Ceylon tea, this is not the case. Most often, Ceylon tea leaves are shipped abroad and are blended or mixed with other teas, which compromises the taste and authenticity. Pure Ceylon tea must be made with fresh leaves and not be mixed with teas from other origins as this ruin the natural flavour of Ceylon tea and diminishes its quality.
History of Ceylon Tea
Ceylon was historically known to be a producer of coffee until a fungus destroyed all the crops in 1869. When James Taylor planted 19 acres of tea in the Loolecondera Estate in the hills of Kandy, Ceylon tea sprung to life, making the country one of the largest producers of tea that caters to several global markets.
Regions of Tea Cultivation
Interestingly, Ceylon tea is produced in several regions across the country, each with its own distinctive quality and taste, owing to the varying climates and elevations of the region. The main tea-producing regions are:
- Central Province –Includes the famous hill cities of Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. Nuwara Eliya, located 6,200 feet above sea level produces rare and refined teas that are quite unlike those produced in other regions. When infused, the liquor ranges from a light golden colour to a deep red hue with an exquisite aroma. Kandy’s mid-grown tea estates, on the other hand, produces a variety of strengths and styles. Teas grown in a higher elevation produces a mild and delicate brew while those grown in a lower elevation produces a strong brew.
- Uva Province –Grown at an elevation of 3,000 – 5,000 feet, tea produced in Bandarawela, Badulla, and Haputale are recognised around the world for their distinct flavours and aromas, owing to their weather conditions.
- Southern Province - With a warm, dry climate, the low grown teas of the southern province are elevated 2,000 feet above sea level, which produces a burgundy-hued brew. Its strong, malty flavour and distinct aroma make it the ideal black tea.
- Sabaragamuwa Province - Dark-yellow brown with a hint of red when brewed, teas grown in this region offers a strong flavour of Ceylon black tea.
There are three main types of Ceylon Tea produced on the island; black tea, green tea, and white tea. With over 188,000 hectares of land producing tea, Ceylon black tea is the most popular around the world, closely followed by Ceylon green tea and Ceylon white tea.
- Ceylon Black Tea – Across the world, black tea is the most popular tea. This deep amber-hued malty tea is made from the handpicked leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. These leaves are then withered, rolled, fermented, dried, and sifted, until you finally enjoy it in your morning cuppa! Out of the three teas, black tea has a full-bodied flavour, and this is because the leaves are completely oxidised or fermented.
- Ceylon Green Tea –For most people, green tea is health in a cup. This delicate brew with a more herbaceous flavour is a popular health beverage and is almost surpassing black tea in popularity! Although made from the same plant, green tea gets its distinct flavour and fragrance from the unoxidised or unfermented leaves. Apart from regular green tea, there are many popular flavours such as Moroccan Mint Green Tea and Ceylon Green Tea with Jasmin.
- Ceylon White Tea –Finally, white tea is the most revered brew in the tea world. The process of making white tea is done entirely by hand. At dawn, the delicate bud and unfurled leaves are handpicked. After that, the leaves are treated with extreme care and are minimally processed. The leaves are air-dried in the shade and are left unoxidised, giving it its signature pale yellow colour.
There are a number of health benefits of Ceylon tea. Ceylon black tea, green tea, and white tea contain various health benefits, the brews have many shared benefits. Ceylon black tea and Ceylon green tea are rich in polyphenols and is known to have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, long term consumption of black tea lowers blood pressure and decreases the chances of heart disease. It has also been stated that the flavonoids present in black tea have the ability to neutralise cancer-causing substances and reduce the risk of cancer initiation. Ceylon green tea is beneficial in healing skin and protecting it from UV radiation.
How to Make Ceylon Tea
Every blend of Ceylon tea is unique, and because of that, the teas cannot be brewed in the same manner. For instance, white tea leaves are very delicate and cannot be brewed in the same way as black tea. If you want to consistently enjoy a good cuppa, always follow the brewing instructions given on the package. Here’s the ideal way to make a delicious cup of Ceylon black tea.
- Boil the water in a kettle.
- Add a single tea bag into the hot water, (2.5 grams of tea for 220ml of water)
- Let it brew for 3-5 minutes.
- Add honey or sugar to taste.
Tea is hygroscopic, which means it readily absorbs moisture and other odours or fragrances. To ensure your Ceylon tea is kept fresh for as long as possible, ensure you store it in an airtight container away from heat, light, and other odours. The tea should also be stored in a cool and dry place.
Where to Get Ceylon Tea
In recent times, Ceylon tea is widely available, however, it may not be real Ceylon tea. Blending compromises authenticity, freshness and sacrifices quality in tea, which is why in 1988, Dilmah pioneered the concept of Single Origin Tea. Our tea is 100% Pure Ceylon Tea, which maximises flavour and goodness. Get your hands on a box of real Ceylon tea today!