Sri Lanka is one of the countries that are famous and widely acknowledged when it comes to tea production. The demand for quality tea has also increased its production in the globe and led to availability of many types of tea in the competitive market. The tea industry is quite essential to Sri Lanka as it earns 60% of the foreign exchange. Tea production in Sri Lanka started during the British regime. Tea grows well in hilly areas of the country and on the wet slopes where there is plenty of rain and a lot of sunshine.
In 1824 the British brought to Sri Lanka [Ceylon] from China and tea was planted in the Peradeniya where the royal Botanical Gardens were located. This tea was only for non-commercial purposes.
Later experimental tea plants were brought from Calcutta and Assam in India to the gardens in 1839.
In 1867 the birth of tea industry was marked in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] by James Taylor. He began tea plantation on an estate of about 19 acres, and later started an equipped tea factory at the Loolecondera estate. Other areas soon began to transform into tea plantations. By 1880s, tea production increased in Ceylon and tea overcome coffee as the main produce by 1888.
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A lot of changes took place in the 19 th century. By 1925, the tea research institute was established to conduct research on the best produce and to determine the maximum yields from the plantations. Evidently, by 1927, tea production increased to 100, 000 metric tons and more so for exportation. Via great advancement in the tea industry, by 1996, Sri Lanka’s tea production exceeded 250, 000 metric tons and grew to 300, 000 metric tons.
It was not been a challenge to find laborers as the tea plantation was structured in a social hierarchy and women were the main laborers in the tea plantation. Nevertheless, the increase in the number of tea plantations and increased production, make it off-putting to find abundant labor. The wages were low and many laborers opted for other means. Frequent slump in economy has also been a challenge to the tea production industry in Sri Lanka.
The key destinations for Sri Lankan teas include Russia, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, Japan, UK and Libya to name but a few. The Sri Lanka tea was divided into three core groups and they include high or upcountry [udarata], mid country [medarata] and low country [pahatha rata]. These tea types were produced according to the geography of the land where they are grown.
Tea culture in Sri Lanka is also diverse and besides producing large amounts of tea, the citizens are more than willing to help this unique culture of drinking tea develop in many parts of the world especially areas where Sri Lanka can easily export its tea produce. Indeed, tea is a source of foreign exchange that only a few countries can level in and so, Sri Lanka government and all boards have always initiated great ways on how to increase tea production for consumption and commercial purposes.
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