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Tea Industry Overview
Early on, the tea planters in Ceylon discovered how different climes affected the tea production. Their discovery led to the production of an array of teas which were endemic to each agro climatic region in the island. While Sri Lanka is known to have seven agro climatic regions, four of them produce high-grown teas at an elevation of about 4000 feet above the sea level in the areas of Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Dimbula and Udapussallawa. Mid grown teas are cultivated at elevations between 2000 to 4000 feet above the sea level in the areas of Kandy. Low grown teas are cultivated at elevations of 2000 feet in the agro climatic regions of Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa. Of the 222, 000 hectares of tea, 60% of it accounts for low grown teas. It’s noteworthy that the bulk of the tea produced in Sri Lanka falls into the category of Orthodox tea. The other category is known as CTC tea – Crush, Tear and Curl. Sri Lanka’s specialty is in Orthodox tea for which the country is also the market leader.
The teas produced in each of these seven regions bear unique characteristics that distinguish them. The colour, taste, aroma and strength differ from region to region. As a result, the Sri Lankan tea industry holds a unique position successfully serving to the tastes favoured by different markets. Over the years, this has been a key success factor for the country’s tea industry. Ceylon Tea is exported to countries all over the world; of these export destinations, Russian Federation is largest market in volume terms followed by Iran, Syria and Iraq respectively. Sri Lanka is the world’s second largest tea exporter after Kenya and, by virtue of that, enjoys the largest revenue earner for tea in comparison with the other tea producer nations.
Whereas the tea industry was started in Sri Lanka by chance rather than by design, by today it has thrived to the scale where it is the world’s second largest supplier of tea and provides employment to thousands of people. All in all, it’s remarkable success story.