The word ‘Ceylon Tea’ is a word that everyone has heard well. This word is very popular not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world. This is because Sri Lanka is the world’s largest tea producer. Two or three decades ago, no other country in the world could challenge Sri Lankan tea. But now countries like China, India, Kenya, and Tanzania are showing great interest in tea cultivation. Therefore, Sri Lanka now has to compete with all those countries.
The history of tea cultivation in Sri Lanka goes back as far as 150 years. The tea tree was first introduced to Sri Lanka by James Taylor. That tea tree is now 150 years old. Today, tea grown in Sri Lanka and produced in Sri Lanka is consumed in many parts of the world. The exact date of the start of the tea industry is not mentioned in any of the sources The year is taken into account.
Origin of Tea
The world’s most popular beverage
Tea, the world’s most popular beverage, was first discovered by China. Huiun (1100 – 1126), an emperor who lived around the tenth century, is considered a true tea connoisseur. The word tea is derived from the Fujian word ‘te’ (e). The Dutch were the first nation to sell tea on a large scale. This is because the island of Fiji, where tea was grown as a means of earning money, became a Dutch colony.
In China, tea is known by the word ‘cha’. In Russia, tea is called ‘wai’. Sri Lanka is also famous for its 150-year reputation for tea. Tea cultivation is one of the leading commercial plantations in Sri Lanka. Tea cultivation employs about one million people.
The tea plant, scientifically known as Camellia sinensis, is considered endemic to India. It grows in the forests of the Assam region at the foothills of the Himalayas in India. The first tea seed was brought to Ceylon in 1824. The second tea seed was brought back to Sri Lanka in 1939. In both cases, the tea seeds were brought in for research purposes and not for cultivation purposes. Therefore, these tea seeds were planted in the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens and they grew freely.
The father of tea cultivation in Sri Lanka
James Taylor, the pioneer of Sri Lankan tea cultivation, came to Ceylon on February 20, 1852, at the age of seventeen, and after working at the Naranhena Coffee Estate, returned to work at the Valoya Estate. Both estates where he worked now belong to the Lulkandura estate.
During James Taylor’s tenure, a coffee plantation was destroyed due to an illness. Alternatively, James Taylor started tea cultivation in 1867 on the Lulkandura Estate on nineteen acres. About five acres can still be seen today as Field No. 7.
Currently, the tea growing areas in Sri Lanka are Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Talawakele, Ratnapura, Galle, Matara, Matale, Moneragala, Kurunegala, Badulla, Kegalle, and Hambantota. The year 1990 is considered as a record year for Sri Lanka’s tea exports. In that year, Sri Lanka became the world’s largest exporter of tea, exporting 215.6 trillion kilograms of tea. It also surpasses India, the largest tea producer.
Birthplace of Ceylon Tea
James Taylor was staying at the Lulkandura estate while researching the tea plantation, and can still see what he used at the top of the estate today. The present estate administration has taken steps to preserve and preserve all that marks the beginning of James Taylor’s historic tea plantations, as well as to preserve his memorabilia in a manner suitable for public viewing.
In 1837, the Governor of Ceylon, Stuart McKenzie, imported some tea seeds from the state of Assam in India and planted them in the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens with the intention of expanding tea cultivation in the country. But he was unable to expand tea cultivation in the country. The English rulers abandoned the commercial crops and focused on tea cultivation as the coffee and cinchona plantations of the planters brought to the country also failed. By then, James Taylor had successfully cultivated nineteen acres of tea at the Lulkandura Estate. Due to the success, the planters were able to expand their tea plantations throughout the island using the example of James Taylor.
Begining of Tea Export
With the expansion of tea cultivation, James Taylor began to investigate tea cultivation day by day. As a result, he was able to export 23 pounds of tea in 1872. Since then, Sri Lanka has been able to enter the international tea export sector commercially. James Taylor, who has lived in Sri Lanka for 40 years, has only been on leave for one day during that time.
Lulkandura Estate consists of 1061 hectares. Of this, only 351 hectares have been used for tea cultivation. The rest of the land is reserved for the Lulkandura Tea Factory, road network, forest reserves and administrative buildings and residential buildings. The plantation is a winter climate zone located at an altitude of 3374 m above sea level. Due to the presence of many natural water sources in the upper reaches of the Lulkandura Estate, the natural climatic features of the area have been created. As a result, the local tourist attraction seems to be increasing day by day. According to Sri Lankan climbers, the Kondagala peak where the James Taylor monument is located has been identified as the ninth place to climb.
The Lulkandura Estate goes down in history as the first tea plantation in Sri Lanka and the Lulkandura Tea Factory goes down in history as the largest factory in Sri Lanka. James Taylor’s tea research has taken place in various parts of the estate and small factories have been set up for this purpose. Later, with the expansion of tea cultivation in several other estates, the green tea leaves were brought to the Lulkandura Tea Factory. Built-in 1923, the factory today employs about fifty people and has a staff of five.
Lulkandura Tea Factory
About 10,000 kilograms of green leaves are brought to the tea factory during mild weather conditions and this amount is between 6000-7000 kilograms during adverse weather conditions. that. Says Chamil Indrajith.
“This tea factory can grind 18,000 kilograms of green tea leaves a day. There are two dryers for that. But now only one machine is operational. So we can now grind a maximum of only 8,000 kilograms of green tea.
Featuring the features of a traditional tea factory, this factory can be called the Museum of the Tea Industry of Sri Lanka. The four-story factory is 325 feet long, 72 feet wide and 60 feet high and is made of sheet metal. The ancient machinery still in the tea factory today is a valuable resource for anyone interested in studying or cultivating tea. Nilanga Jayasuriya, Assistant Superintendent of Estates, comments on the production of tea without the use of modern technology.
“The only change in the factory in 2008 was the installation of a color separator. To this day, a wood-fired oven adds heat to the machine that is used to dry tea powder in the factory. Tea is still produced using such ancient machinery. It is unique to this factory.” According to the estate superintendent, Lulkandura is one of the most popular tea factories and tourist attractions in the country.