The number 3 or 4 player in tea growing in the world is the island nation off the south coast of India. Formerly named “Ceylon,” it is now called Sri Lanka. The teas, though, are still referred to as Ceylon teas. They are used in many blends, including brands like Barry’s and PG Tips, instead of being sold by themselves. But more and more you can find pure Ceylon teas and even some from various tea estates available.
Sri Lanka has elevations ranging from sea level to 7,000 or more feet above sea level. Their tea growing regions occupy three different elevation zones: high, mid, and low. The elevations of each zone, though, seems indeterminate, with different feet ranges posted on different sites. One site says they are: “Low Grown (sea level to 600meters), Mid Grown (600meters to 1200 meters) and High Grown (1200 meters upward).” For our purposes here, I have gone by the designation used on the sites of some tea vendors who specialize in Ceylon teas.
Some High Elevation Tea Estates/Factories
- Kirkoswald (4,100 feet, Bogawantalawa Valley, Dimbulla) — Founded by Kirk and Oswald in the 18th century, originally for growing coffee.
Fortunately, when the coffee crop was attacked by blight, the owners found the estate was ideally situated for the cultivation of tea. Most of their teas are Pekoes.
- Pedro – Lovers Leap (7,000 feet, Central Hills of Nuwara Eliya) — Near where the famous ‘lovers leap’ waterfall is. An ideal mixture of rain and sunshine assures exquisite tea throughout the year. They have a well-developed tea factory that is the only one in the country with two separate structures, one for grading and the other for withering of green tea.
- Pettiagalla or “Box-shaped Rock” (elev. not specified, Balangoda District) — One of the most prestigious plantations, established at the turn of the last century, in Sri Lanka and often covered in mist that helps account for their array of premium teas which are in great demand at tea auctions.
- Ampittiakande (elev. not specified, Uva Province) — This plantation was named after the ‘Vidanes’ (people who harvested in the region for an ancient King). The factory has modern equipment, and their teas are well-known and in great demand, getting top prices at auction. The tea is grown by about 4,000 small holder farmers and adds up to about 500,000 pounds of black teas each year.
- Adawatte (2,600 feet, Uva Province) — The estate was established in 1938, and the factory was rebuilt in 1956, with what was at the time the most modern technology for processing tea leaves. With about 663 hectares of land, the estate is able to produce fine teas during the entire “quality season” in the Uva Province. They have a reputation for providing one of the cleanest cups of tea in Sri Lanka.
- Weddemulle (3,280–6,230 feet, Nuwara Ellya region) — The plantation offers a great variety of teas, due to extensive re-engineering of the land in the past few years. The quality is consistently high and account for the high annual turnover.
- Dickwella (2,500–4,000 feet, Badulla region) — This tea estate has such a variation in elevation, that is produces teas that subtly change from area to area, with each one being sought by tea connoisseurs world-wide, even during the off-season. Their factory is very modern and, sitting at the summit of their land, can be seen from all over the Uva district.
Don’t miss our next stop on this virtual world tea tour where we look at some mid-grown Ceylon teas!
Ceylon Black Tea
Sylvakandy Estate Ceylon Tea — Sheer Delight!
Reading Tea Leaves — Ceylon Teas
Darjeeling vs. Ceylon Teas
Main Ceylon Tea Growing Regions
You Say Sri Lanka, Tea Drinkers Say Ceylon
Review — Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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