|Teas from the highest region on the island are described as the ‘champagne’ of Ceylon teas.
Until 1860’s The main crop produced on the island of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was coffee. But in 1869, the coffee-rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, killed the majority of the coffee plants and estate owners had to diversify into other crops in order to avoid total ruin.
|The owners of Loolecondera Estate had been interested in tea since the late 1850’s and in 1866, James Taylor, a Scotsman a recently arrived in 1840, read about the Jewel of an Island called Ceylon and the opportunities existing there for growing coffee. Taylor had acquired some basic knowledge of tea cultivation in North India and made some initial experiments in manufacture after moving to the Hill Country area, using his bungalow verandah as the factory and rolling the leaf by hand on tables. Firing of the oxidized leaf was carried out on clay stoves over charcoal fires with the leaf on wire trays. He planted not only coffee but also some tea seeds from India. and then Tea Industry came into being. His first teas were sold locally and were declared delicious.
By 1872, Taylor had a fully equipped factory, and, in 1873, his first quality teas were sold for a very good price at the London auction. Taylor was largely responsible for the early success of the tea crop in Ceylon. He was brain child to grow Tea in Sri Lanka and known to be in charge of the first sowing of tea seeds in 1867, on 19 acres of land. Loolecondera Estate is first Tea Garden in Sri Lanka to produce Tea
Between 1873 and 1880, production rose from just 23 pounds to 81.3 tons, and by 1890, to 22,899.8 tons. Soon the perilously steep mountainsides of the hill country were carpeted with the vibrant green of tea bushes. And Ceylon Tea became the world’s favorite and famous beverage.
The origins of Tea was with the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung who was boiling water when the leaves from a nearby plant “Camellia sinensis” plant floated into the pot. The emperor drank the mixture and declared it gave one "vigor of body, contentment of mind, and determination of purpose." Perhaps as testament to the emperor's assessment, tea the potion he unwittingly brewed that day today is second only to water in worldwide consumption.