Major Ceylon Tea Regions-The Hills Are Alive
A gust of fresh cool air greets you as you wake up every morning in the hills of Sri Lanka. It is chilly but not unfriendly. You would have your cup of tea and your bright sweater to keep you warm and you would set out with your copy of the newspaper for the day’s work.
The highest altitudes in Sri Lanka reach around 8000 ft above sea level and the tea estates are grown in altitudes all the way up to 6000 ft. It is these altitudes in fact that categorize the teas of Sri Lanka. There are three main divisions of tea solely and interestingly, based only on their heights from sea level.
- Low-grown Teas -elevations below 2000 ft
- Medium-grown Teas - elevations between 2000 to 4000 ft
- High-Grown Teas- Elevations between 4000 to 6000 ft.
Each of these regions has its own unique geological features that give rise to different teas each of unique flavour and scent. If you drove by the hilly areas of Sri Lanka you would witness vast stretches of acres and acres of gorgeous tea plantations. These areas are also quite known for being home to species of leeches! The ecosystem involving the leeches nutrifying the soil and the enriched soil in turn being the perfect home for these leeches together create a cycle that produces the perfect soil consistency for tea shoots. For those brave souls who are only just terrified of leeches, there is a trick taught by the tea-pickers. The tea-pickers make a paste out of betel leaves and areca nut and apply this on the legs as a protective layer. The more terrified one is, the more combinations of prevention method you will witness on their bodies. It would range from soap coated high boots to silicon sprays completely covering themselves.
Sri Lanka is a tropical haven blessed with tropical rains throughout the year. Sri Lanka does not experience vast changes in climates and so it doesn’t experience the 4 seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Instead, Sri Lanka has just two distinct wet seasons and two distinct dry seasons. The changes in temperature is very slight and the patterns of rainfall in each area only depends on the altitudes and the direction of the wind. The rains are very refreshing when they pour down from the skies gifting the Earth with its goodness. You will not experience the harshness of a monsoon or the dryness of droughts. The climates differing slightly from area to area produce rich flavourful teas all uniquely different from each other.These friendly flowy climatic conditions and the geological factors allow tea not just grow for only a particular season but all throughout the year.
Some of the popular areas for tea plantations located at ideal spots each producing wonderfully flavoured teas are listed below;
Kandy Tea Profile
Elevation: 2000 -4000ft
Temperature: 20 degree Celsius
Tea: Lower elevations produce large leaves of a stronger flavour while higher elevations produce smaller leaves with a more delicate flavour. Resulting tea is a bright copper-tone liquid.
Tea fact : The city which bore the country’s first tea plant.
Elevation: over 6000ft
Temperature: 10 degree Celsius
Tea: Unusually smaller leaves which retain an orange hue. Resulting tea is the palest of all Ceylon Teas with a golden hue and a delicate fragrant flavour.
Tea Fact: Nuwara Eliya is the highest high-grown tea region and is reputed as producing one of the world’s finest teas including Orange Pekoe.
Elevation: 3000-5000 ft
Temperature: 11 degree Celsius (Borders Nuwara Eliya)
Tea: Leaves as small as Nuwara Eliya’s, producing tea of a stronger tangy flavour with a pink hue.
Tea Fact: Acclaimed for the best batches of Sri Lanka’s green teas.
Elevation: 3000- 5000 ft
Temperature: 23 degree Celsius
Tea: the leaves are more blackened by withering producing a very distinctive flavour. The tea itself is mellow and very smooth.
Tea Fact: A unique natural phenomenon occurs in Uva where the hot dry winds cause the tea leaves to roll up as though affected by drought. This creates an internal change in the cells of the leaf to help retain moisture.
Elevation: over 4000 ft
Temperature: 27 - 32 degree Celsius
Tea: the Dimbula tea has a defined character of a golden-orange hue with a fresh flavour.
Tea Fact: Experiences complex changes in climate including monsoon rains that give rise to a variety of flavours including jasmine and cypress.
Elevation: 2500 ft
Temperature: 27 degree Celsius
Tea: Produces a reddish-tinted dark brown liquid carrying a sweet caramel aroma.
Tea Fact: Sabaragamuwa’s soil is special enough to produce a variety of gemstones found in Sri Lanka. The richness of this soil gives rise to significantly fast-growing tea bushes
Elevation: 2000 ft
Temperature: 25 degree Celsius
Tea: the leaves produced are large and nearly black and results in full-bodied strong black teas.
Tea Fact: The warm conditions fast-growing abilities of the tea bushes help produce a variety of teas including the popular “tips”.
All these naturally-gifted conditions contribute to making this tiny island Sri Lanka, the 4th largest tea producer in the world today.
When tasting tea and you hear a Sri Lankan say “Mmmm Quality tea!” or “Ahh Original tea”, their subconscious is actually referring to the tea that was picked right from the tea estates without any additives. When tea is complimented as “Quality tea” it isn’t just the definition we learned in school, Heavens no, it refers to several images all at once. Are you ready? You must picture tea leaves in the tea estate, very healthy leaves, high breezy altitude, fresh cooling green colour, tea-pluckers picking the best leaves by hand, grinding it in the factory so close to the estate, emerging as loose-leaf tea, no additives, no added flavours, no blends, now picture tea being brewed from that batch with the original maximum decoction and you drink THAT tea. Ahhhh now that is Quality tea.
We are only excited to share this cup of freshness with you and hear your ‘Ahhhhh’-slogans afterwards.