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 600 meters), 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.
In a previous article, we looked at some high elevation tea estates/factories. Time to check out some mid elevation (mid-grown) Ceylon teas.
Some Mid Elevation Tea Estates/Factories
- Kenilworth (3,500 feet, Central Province) — Established at the turn of the last century and named after the famous castle in England, this estate still enjoys a reputation throughout the world for producing fine teas. Their OP holds the record for the top price bid at auction. With an annual rainfall of 4800mm, the estate is able to produce around two million pounds of black tea per year.
- Shawlands (3,900 feet, Badulla region) — With the Madulsima mountain range on one side and Lunugala on the other, this estate, planted towards the end of the 19th century, is still thriving. Many of the tea bushes are original, giving the teas made from them a very unique taste.
- Sanquhar (elev. not specified, Kandy District) — One of the oldest tea plantations in Sri Lanka. It sits in a valley, surrounded by blue mountains and waterfalls, and produces some of the best green teas on the island.
- Geragama (1,500 feet, near Kandy) — Plenty of rainfall throughout the year yields about 6 tons of tea leaves per day during the rainy season (May to September) on only about 60 hectares. The estate is home to about 600 people dedicated to this important crop.
- Sarnia Plaiderie (2,720–3,500 feet, Badulla District) — The estate is divided into five areas and, after privatization in 1992, underwent significant changes. Managed by Malwatte Valley Plantations Ltd, they have been focusing on leafy and semi-leafy teas, with their FBOP, Pekoe, OP1, FBOPF1 and BOP1 grades commanding record prices over the last few years.
- Demodera (2,857 feet, Badulla District in the Uva Province) — This estate has been growing tea for over 100 years and cultivates 557,000 hectares. Most of the tea plants are vegetatively propagated from old seedling tea. The factory, built in 1912, is still producing quality tea at a rate of around 1.2 million ton of tea per year.
- Sylvakandy Estate (elev. not specified, Kandy region) — One of the first region in Ceylon to grow tea and one of six tea-producing regions on this island nation. A lovely example of teas from this part of the world. (my review)
Don’t miss our next stop on this virtual world tea tour where we look at some low-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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