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Ceylon greenOur first February tea of the month is ceylon green. Imported from Sri Lanka, our Ceylon Green is characterized as smooth and subtle. According to wikipedia, tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Originally known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Great Britain occupied the coastal areas during the Napoleonic Wars to prevent France gaining control. In 1972 Ceylon’s name was changed to Sri Lanka when it became a republic. Currently, tea accounts for 2% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, generating roughly $700 million annually to the economy of Sri Lanka. It employs, directly or indirectly over 1 million people. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. With all of these amazing stats, Ceylon Green is still one of the unsung heroes. Most of Sri Lanka’s tea exported is black, and green tea is typically imported from Asian countries.

Ceylon in tea refers to a location, not a type of leaf. Ceylon Green tea is prepared from the fresh leaves of the tea plant, unlike Ceylon Black, which is made from the aged stems and leaves. Ceylon Green is often described as “full bodied and pungent, with a malty or nutty flavor.” Whether you go with that or “smooth and subtle,” you will get 15% off if you purchase it now! I have no doubt our readers will weigh in with their own adjectives.

~Your Editor

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blueberry-sweet-fruitOne thing I love the smell of in the morning, is blueberries. Blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, and now blueberry tea. Recently I tried out the English Tea Store’s Blueberry Green and it’s one of my new go-to teas – refreshing enough to wake me up but also somewhat calming. Good for a weekend morning where you can relax. I gave this tea to my dad, one of the most wound-up people in the world and HE enjoyed it!

This tea is good either sweetened or unsweetened, hot or iced. The smell is very heavenly and pairs well with breakfast, but of course you can also have it whenever you feel like it. A wonderful tea time drink, it pairs well with a delicious blueberry scone or scone with blueberry jam (I’m going crazy with blueberries here).

1445443_96433729If you’re not much of a blueberry fan as I am, you can always go for plain green tea or even our bolder green tea with ceylonCeylon is a black tea and helps add smoothness. Both teas are very good choices for a relaxing morning or a tea time.

~CD

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Last but not least, here are some low elevation (low-grown) Ceylon teas.

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.

A lovely Ceylon with a dash of milk and grapes on the side.

A lovely Ceylon with a dash of milk and grapes on the side.

Topography

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 Low Elevation Tea Estates/Factories

  • Golden Garden (elev. not specified, Galle region) — This tea garden dates from 1906 when the first tea plants were planted by the owner’s grandfather. The garden is still a family business but has been expanding to include two additional tea estates and a trading arm. They use modern technology yet have a respect for tradition, gaining them a reputation as one of the island’s most successful units tea producers.
  • New Vithanakande (elev. not specified, Sabaragamuva region) — Like Ampittiakande, this plantation was also named after the ‘Vidanes’ (people who harvested in the region for an ancient King). The factory here also has modern equipment, producing well-known teas that are in great demand, selling for top prices at auction.
  • Lumbini (elev. not specified, Deniyaya District) — A producer of fine teas. The plantation is small but run with such efficiency, with man and machinery coordinating fully, that they serve as an example to others.
  • Cecilyan (600 feet, Sabaragamuwa District) — In one of the finest tea-producing areas on Sri Lanka. Until recently, they only manufactured orthodox teas. Now they also produce excellent CTC teas that have garnered a reputation from tea lovers around the world.
  • Echkay (600 feet, Sabaragamuwa District) — Some of the most consistent low grown teas from Sri Lanka. The privately owned factory produces limited quantities of tea and is considered a “boutique tea” dealer.
  • Batapola (600 feet, Sabaragamuwa District) — High quality production teas, using green leaf from neighboring plantations (the factory is therefore classified as “bought leaf”). Some of the finest orthodox, low-grown, teas from Sri Lanka.

Don’t miss our next stop on this virtual world tea tour!

See also:
Ceylon Black Tea
Sylvakandy Estate Ceylon Tea — Sheer Delight!
Reading Tea Leaves — Ceylon Teas
Darjeeling vs. Ceylon Teas
Main Ceylon Tea Growing Regions
Ceylon Blends
You Say Sri Lanka, Tea Drinkers Say Ceylon
Review — Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ceylon Tea (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Ceylon Tea (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Ceylon tea is still something of an unknown (or perhaps lesser known these days) quantity for me, but that’s gradually starting to change as more samples start to trickle in. I sampled a few from another merchant a while back that were good but not great. Most recently I took the English Tea Store’s Organic Ceylon out for a spin and I liked that one better.

Which brings me to the Tea Store’s Lovers Leap, which is also a Ceylon tea. Which are primarily black teas from the island nation formerly known as Ceylon and now known as Sri Lanka. This one is grown in the Nuwara Eliya district there, which is located at about four thousand feet above sea level. As coincidence would have it I ran across an article from the Chinese press recently about this very same region. According to the article it’s one of the most important tea production centers in the country and is sometimes referred to as Little England, a reference to its colonial roots.

My first reaction upon steeping a batch of this tea was disappointment. The Tea Store’s blurb refers to it as “a high grown lighter flowery flavor tea, very good after dinner” and I found it to be very light indeed, much too light for my tastes. Realizing that the leaf was a little larger than many of the black teas I’ve been drinking lately I decided I’d try using a little more of it and things improved considerably.

Well, now that’s more like it, I thought to myself, as I came up with a much darker brew and a flavor to match. I’ve been drinking a lot of bold and heavy Assam tea lately and prior to that one of my everyday teas was a very strong black variety from Yunnan. I’m not typically a fan of the more delicate black teas. While this one is a little lighter than what I’m used to the revamped formula made for a great batch and I’m sure I won’t have any problems working my way through the sample pack.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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.

Ceylon teas are guaranteed to make your teapot happy! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Ceylon teas are guaranteed to make your teapot happy! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Topography

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!

See also:
Ceylon Black Tea
Sylvakandy Estate Ceylon Tea — Sheer Delight!
Reading Tea Leaves — Ceylon Teas
Darjeeling vs. Ceylon Teas
Main Ceylon Tea Growing Regions
Ceylon Blends
You Say Sri Lanka, Tea Drinkers Say Ceylon
Review — Sylvakandy Estate Orange Pekoe

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ceylon Tea (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Ceylon Tea (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

For tea lovers the island nation of Sri Lanka is probably best known as a producer of a type of tea known as Ceylon – which was the former name of the country. But it wasn’t always so. Prior to about 1870, coffee was actually one of the main crops grown there and tea was of marginal importance. The fortunes of the latter were helped considerably by an outbreak of disease that affected coffee plants and by 1885 tea production was on the verge of overtaking coffee.

The year 1885 was also noteworthy as the year of publication for Ceylon & Her Planting Enterprize: In Tea, Cacao, Cardamoms, Cinchona, Coconut, and Areca Palms, by A.M. & J. Ferguson. It’s a slim volume – only about 77 pages worth – and as the title indicates is not devoted solely to tea, but even so there are plenty of interesting tidbits for amateur tea historians (guilty).

According the Fergusons, the export of tea from Ceylon began in the 1875 season with a rather meager quantity of 482 pounds. By the time the authors were writing their book, presumably around 1884, they estimated that the annual harvest for that season would amount to more than two million pounds, which was quite a nice jump.

While this was obviously intended as a practical tome, as evidenced by such chapter titles as Ceylon as a Field for the Investment of Capital and Energy, there are some interesting tidbits scattered throughout, as with so many of these historical tea tomes. The authors devote part of the first chapter to discussing tea and all of Chapter Three, which is titled Tea Cultivation: Rules for the Guidance of a Young Tea Planter.

A lot of this chapter is given over to that dry practical stuff and perhaps a few too many graphs for the casual reader, but it opens with a section in which the authors address these future planters in more down to Earth terms, advising that they learn the business before jumping in feet first, pay cash and avoid loans, as well as offering less politically correct (and grammatically dubious) advice as “learn to know your coolies.”

It’s yet another in the series of a zillion or so old tea books that I’ve covered in these pages and it’s also available for free at such online archives as this one.

See also: Main Ceylon Tea Growing Regions 

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fourth in this round of that practical approach to reading tea leaves. Before steeping, these leaves tell of the process they endured once plucked from the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis). After steeping, they reveal their true nature more fully. There is such variety in the leaves from one to another.

Here are tales from a few black teas I’ve tried:

Breakfast Blend No. 2 — A blend of tea leaf brethren: high-grown Kenyan, Ceylon, and 2nd Flush Assam. They traveled from their tea garden homes to some processing factory where they were joined together in a lovely blend. The piece size is “broken leaf” and certainly looks machine harvested and processed. The reddish color of the leaves after steeping reflects the reddish-brown color of the liquid and tells of the oxygen working on those leaves and preparing them to steep up a lovely malty yet not overly tannic flavor.

Czar Nicolas Russian Caravan — That smoky Lapsang Souchong flavored from those pine fires used to dry them and a malty Assam that was processed in a more orthodox manner tell of a long tradition of bringing these two very different teas together, one from China and one from India. Larger piece sizes than Breakfast Blend No. 2 above, in part because they start with larger leaves. Again, a reddish tint to the leaves after steeping.

Three teas from the Yunnan province in southern China:

#1 Red Dragon Pearl — The dry tea comes in hand-rolled balls about the size of a chickpea (per the vendor’s site) and unfurls nicely during the steeping. The rolled up “pearls” tell of skilled fingers but don’t show you what the leaves are like. After steeping, however, you can see the tender two leaves and a bud combo, which tells of skillful plucking of those leaves from their mother tea bush.

#2 Yunnan Gold Downy Pekoe — Unlike Red Dragon Pearl, the leaves are not rolled in pearl shapes but look more like tiny snails. Like that member of fauna, these members of flora are curled is a graceful arc that keeps their flavors safe until the water pries them open.

#3 Hong Jing Luo — Similar to Golden Yunnan with a rich, sweet flavor. The name roughly translates to “golden, downy feathers” because the golden leaves and buds are loosely rolled into small coils shaped like tiny, delicate feathers. Seeing that two-leaf-and-bud combo shows that careful journey through the tea fields by skilled pluckers who knew which leaves were at just the right stage. Sorters made doubly sure that only the best leaves were passed along for processing.

The tales that tea leaves tell! Next time, we’ll see the wonders of Darjeeling teas.

In case you missed ’em:
Reading Tea Leaves — Green Teas
Reading Tea Leaves — Oolong Teas
Reading Tea Leaves — White Teas 

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

English Tea Store Lovers Leap Estate

English Tea Store Lovers Leap Estate

Name: Lovers Leap Estate

Brand: English Tea Store

Type: Black tea

Form: Loose leaf

Review: This is a very reasonably priced, albeit very “neutral” Ceylon black tea which may well suit those who are looking for a very neutral, yet versatile, black tea that can go with a variety of foods. Even better, it can take sugar and milk, but neither are necessary.

The dry leaf is charcoal brown, medium/long and twisty. The nose is fairly clean, with an initial hit of lemon, then giving way to a slight earthiness. This tea brews up to the red-orange typical of Ceylons and has a faint lemony nose. A very light bodied tea, the lemon dominates with the earthy notes making themselves known primarily in the slightly astringent finish. If you like a very light tea, this one should work well for you. However, if you prefer a more full-bodied cup, Lovers Leap Estate Black is likely to be unsatisfying. On the other hand, this could be an excellent spring or summer tea for those who enjoy hot tea during those seasons.

Preparation Tips: Ceylons almost always make a good iced tea, and this one is no exception. It is also very easy to prepare hot: I used 4 grams of leaf to 8 ounces of boiling water, and steeped for three and one half minutes. If you don’t let it steep long enough, you will miss out on the lemon notes and all you’ll get some ambiguous earthiness. The lemon needs time to develop.

Food Pairing Tips: This tea is remarkably neutral, so it should go with most everything. While you could drink it on its own, I think it is best consumed along with food, particularly a light breakfast or afternoon snack. If you were going to offer a traditional afternoon tea with little sandwiches, Lovers Leap Estate tea should work very nicely indeed.

Keemun PandaFor most of us – or at least for most of us this side of Asia – tea and black tea are almost synonymous. Though other types of tea have become more popular in the West in recent times, if someone mentions the word tea, it’s likely to conjure up an image of that old standby, the black one. And though varieties such as green, oolong and puerh may tend to be more prized by tea connoisseurs, there are those – present company included – who believe that nothing beats a cup of truly good black tea.

Though all tea is derived from the same plant – Camellia sinensis – they are processed in different ways that provide us with a total of six types – black, green, oolong, white, yellow and puerh. One of the most processed of all types, black tea leaves go through a process called oxidization that breaks down the leaves, releasing chlorophyll and tannins and giving the finished product its unique dark color and flavor.

Black tea is produced in a number of countries around the world, but for all intents and purposes the most notable of these are China, India, Sri Lanka, and a number of African countries. Much of the tea grown in Africa is of so-so quality, at best, and goes into blended teas. Teas grown in Sri Lanka are mostly of the black type and are still marketed under the name Ceylon, which is the former name of this island nation.

In Sri Lanka’s next door neighbor – India – there are three primary tea-growing regions, all of which are devoted, for the most part, to the production of black tea. Assam is the most significant of these and probably one of the world’s largest single tea-growing regions. Assam produces large quantities of lower and medium grades of tea and a much smaller quantity of high grade single estate tea. India’s Darjeeling region is primarily known for its relatively modest output of an aromatic and flavorful variety of premium tea. Nilgiri is arguably India’s least significant growing with a modest output of black tea that spans the range of quality.

Though China is probably best known for all of its other types of tea, the black tea grown there – which the Chinese sometimes refer to red tea – is worthy of mentioning. Some of the most noteworthy Chinese teas of this type include Keemun, a small-leaved variety with a faintly smoky flavor that is often a component in various breakfast tea blends. Yunnan tea is a particularly flavorful variety of black tea which is characterized by long spindly leaves. It takes its name from the Yunnan province of China, which also gives the world much of its supply of Puerh tea. Golden Monkey, though not so well known as these other Chinese black teas, is also worthy of any black tea lover’s consideration.

Don’t miss William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

Buckingham Palace Garden Party

Buckingham Palace Garden Party

The quality of Ceylon teas has been on a steady rise since tea plantations revived Sri Lanka’s agricultural industry when their coffee crops fell victim to disease. You can have a pure Ceylon tea from a particular estate or enjoy one of these delicious teas in a blend where their flavors harmonize with the qualities of other teas.

Ceylon blends can consist of various Ceylon teas grown in the different tea regions or a Ceylon tea blended with other teas, florals, herbals, etc. This can balance out qualities of the tea liquid, blending teas that tend to be stronger in flavor with those that are more delicate. For example, take a tea from the Diayella estate at a high elevation (high grown) in the Dimbulla District that has a mellow flavor and mix it with tea from the Lumbini estate at a low elevation (low grown) in the Matara District, a black tea with an exceptional deep rich aroma, a copper/red hue, and a spicy sweet flavor. You get a blend that combines both flavor characteristics.

For a successful tea blend, blenders must bring the tastes, textures, and colors of different teas together. Once a blend is perfected and is successful on the tea market, the blenders have to be able to produce it consistently. Since Ceylon teas are often used as the base for tea blends, and since the flavor of these teas varies by region, season, and elevation, blenders often start by blending various Ceylon teas. It’s sort of like working out a brand new recipe but making sure you note the steps you took so you can document it and repeat it later. Once the blenders have this “recipe” worked out, they can blend everything in big machines, assuring consistency.

Blends with Ceylon teas as a base:

  • English Breakfast Blend No. 1 (a personal favorite) — Ceylon, Assam, and Kenyan teas produce a full malty flavor and dark color to start your day. Fabulous hot with milk and sweetener or with lemon only. Another great feature of this tea is that you can fix a potful in the morning, drink some, let the pot sit (warm in its tea cozy) for awhile, pour another cupful and reheat it a bit in the microwave, and it will taste about as delicious as when fresh brewed.
  • Indian Spiced Chai (a fine versionof a classic) — high grown Ceylon black tea with cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin seed, sweet cumin seeds, curry leaves, lemon grass, and rampe leaves. Goes best with milk and sweetener to taste.
  • Buckingham Palace Garden Party (a real treat) — high grown pure Ceylon Earl Grey with soft jasmine from Fujian Province, plus Borengajuli Estate malty Assam and Dimbula Ceylon (from Hatton), East of Rift Kenyan (from Kambaa and Kagwe). You’ll taste the Earl Grey, then the jasmine, and finally the blend of Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas.

Some Ceylon tea blends with fruit flavors:

  • Monks Blend (another favorite) — high grown Ceylon tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level with vanilla and grenadine flavors added.
  • Island Coconut— high grown Ceylon black tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level with a tropical taste of real coconut full of memories of white sand beaches and swaying palm trees and no chemical aftertaste.
  • Mango Mist— high grown Ceylon black tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level and natural flavors.
  • Orange Spice — high grown Ceylon black tea from estates at more than 5500 feet above sea level blended with tangy Florida orange taste and fresh cinnamon.

Ceylon teas are used in a variety of brands, including Golden Moon, Harney and Sons, Taylors of Harrogate, Revolution, and The Republic of Tea.

As you can see, you have lots of choices. Pick a blend, any blend, and have a nice, flavorful cupful. Also these make a great gift for someone you want to introduce to teas since these are a cut above the bagged dust available in stores.

Don’t miss A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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