The highlands of Sri Lanka is home to Ceylon Tea, the finest tea in the world. Ceylon tea is available in the market in a range of varieties such as Ceylon Black Tea, Ceylon White Tea, Oolong Tea, and Ceylon Green Tea.
All these varieties are exported to foreign markets where they have been improving their high status when responding to global demand. Tea lovers all over the world have enjoyed the unique flavour of each Ceylon Variety for more than 150 years. These factors are inspired by the richness of the soil and the healthy climate that these teas grow in.
Ceylon Tea does not always have the same taste. Any frequent tea consumer can tell the difference between the taste of each Ceylon Tea they find in the market. This is because the taste of Ceylon Tea differs from region to region at which they are grown.
Even though they all originate from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, they get the touch of the growth factors including temperature that is unique to each of these regions. This feature has helped the brand name of “Ceylon Tea'' to improve much further since the taste always gets better. The export market of the sector is backed up by a lot of potentials both tapped and untapped.
After its first introduction in 1867, Ceylon tea made its way to the top of the global market serving generations of tea lovers. It is now the top agricultural export in Sri Lanka with over one million individuals serving the industry. Turkey is currently the largest buyer of Ceylon Tea in the world market. Sri Lankan exporters supplied 17 million kilograms of Ceylon tea to buyers in Turkey during the first half of 2021. Iraq was the former largest client for the sector where 16.2 million kilograms were bought in 2020. The total revenue of the Ceylon Tea sector accounted for 24.7 billion rupees in June 2021. Russia was the third-largest buyer by the end of the fiscal year with a purchase of 13.3 million kilograms.
Ceylon Tea is a daily consumed commodity in most of these countries. For example, Turkey has been on the top list of international Ceylon Tea buyers for over 50 years. The country imports 180.000 tons of tea annually. China and the United Arab Emirates are also among the biggest international clients for Ceylon tea.
Tea is a vital sector in the Sri Lankan economy as it, directly and indirectly, provides employment opportunities for more than 1.5 million people. It also supports many other sectors such as banks, shipping, insurance, packaging, freight forwarding, natural flavour manufacturing, and logistics.
Around 400,000 tea smallholder farmers and 23 regional plantation companies (RPCs) are engaged in the tea production and Ceylon Tea export revenue trickles down to the growers’ level supporting an entire rural economy.
The current annual average tea production in the country is between 300 and 320 million kg. The regional plantation companies (RPCs) account for 30% of the tea production while the smallholder growers contribute 70% of the annual tea production. Over 90% of Sri Lanka tea production is orthodox tea and the CTC tea share is less than 10%.
However, the average yield per hectare is about 1,400 kg, comparatively lower than in Kenya and India. Ceylon Tea also has the highest cost of production in the tea world. As the local tea production is stagnating since 2014, it affects the tea export capacity as well. Sri Lanka exported 290 million kg of tea in 2019 at a value of USD 1.3 billion. Approximately 35% of tea exports are in the value-added form of below 3 kg packages.
The outstanding quality of Ceylon Tea is not only the reason behind the improving export demand of the beverage. The way that these tea varieties are grown and processed also play a major role in its success story. Every step taken in the growth and preparation of Ceylon tea is eco-friendly.
Everyone taking part in this process appreciates the value of the Ozone layer.
The ozone layer protects the earth from ultraviolet light and other forms of high radiation reaching the earth’s surface. These types of radiation can be harmful to life. It can affect fertility, reproduction, and even start certain cancers.
Ceylon Tea, unlike other tea producing nations, boasts its brand name as Ozone friendly tea. The sector does not practise the use of methyl bromide when packing and shipping its products. It further does not involve the use of any ozone-depleting substances in the production of tea. As a result, each unit of Ceylon tea exported from Sri Lanka carries the “Ozone Friendly Pure Ceylon Tea” logo. This has helped to build confidence in international buyers about the brand. In addition, Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) and Tea Research Institute (TRI) have introduced Good Agricultural (GAP) and Good Manufacturing (GMP) practices to ensure compliance with minimum tea quality standards.