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History of Ceylon Tea

The Fine Art of Tea

By 1867 the 275,000 acres of coffee plantations in Ceylon were threatened with extermination by the Coffee Rust Disease “Hemilea Vastatrix.” Looking around for a commercial crop to replace it, the planters settled on tea. They soon discovered that the tea-bush was far better suited to the climate and terrain than coffee ever was; indeed, the hill country of Ceylon – known today as Sri Lanka – proved to be capable of producing the finest tea in the world. It has been doing so ever since.  

Explore Dilmah’s fascinating History of Ceylon Tea website
History of Ceylon Tea
History of Ceylon Tea

The First Tea Plant

Although the cultivation of tea on a commercial scale, in Ceylon, was begun in 1867, the first tea seed was planted in Ceylon nearly half a century earlier in 1824 at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya. The tea seed then was brought from China. In the meantime, indigenous tea was discovered in Upper Assam by Major Robert Bruce and Assam tea seed was received at the Peradeniya Gardens in 1839.

A Story of Tea

History of Ceylon Tea
History of Ceylon Tea

The Father of Ceylon Tea

James Taylor, known as the “father of Ceylon’s tea industry” commenced the new historic venture by planting the first tea clearing in 1867 on what is now identified as Field No.7 of Loolecondera Estate, Deltota near Kandy. The extent planted was twenty acres. Taylor himself “manufactured” the tea which was rolled by hand on a table in the verandah of his bungalow and fired over charcoal in a clay stove.

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