Despite often appearing as a "flavour" of tea, especially with certain brands of tea bags, Ceylon tea is not a type or flavour of the tea. It is merely a region where teas are grown, in this case, Ceylon, the old name for Sri Lanka. So, whether green, white or black, all the tea from this region is "Ceylon" tea.
Tea production in Sri Lanka is one of the primary sources of foreign exchange, contributing to 2% of the island nation's GDP. Sri Lanka also exports 23% of the world's total tea. Sri Lanka's highlands host an ideal environment for high-quality tea production. The Sri Lankan highlands host a humid, cold, temperate and rainy area that boasts some high elevation. All of these are contributing factors to an excellent tea. Sri Lanka also has lowlands such as Matara, Galle, and Rathnapura, which have high levels of rainfall and generally warm weather. This produces a tea that is known for being highly astringent.
How is Ceylon Tea made?
About 4% of Sri Lanka's land is devoted to tea production. The tea plantations on the island use the "contour planting method." Planting entails planting the tea bushes according to the various contours of the land and the slopes of the highlands.
Sri Lankan tea plantations need a great deal of love and care, and the soil quality is regularly supplemented by fertilizer. Soil quality is essential in tea cultivation, along with growing plants in areas with higher altitudes, lots of humidity, and constant rainfall.
The leaves that are used for commercial export include the flush leaves, which are the leaves found on the side branches of the bush. Plucking the tea leaves is a delicate and labour-intensive practice. The job is usually performed by women, who aim to pick two leaves and one bud. This skill allows the tea to emit a pleasant aroma. It is the human touch of harvesting that allows Sri Lankan tea to maintain such elegance and renown. It is one of the few tea producing regions that favour hand plucking over machine harvesting. Machines often cannot harvest as carefully or delicately as humans, and so the tea leaves retain an ascended level of quality. After plucking, the leaves are brought to a muster shed where they are weighed and kept under dutiful protection.
Next, the tea leaves are brought to higher floors of the factories and are spread out on troughs where they are allowed to wither. The withering process lets the leaves shed their weight in preparation for the next step of tea processing - the twisting and rolling step. The twisting and rolling of leaves allow them to react to oxygen. Especially in the processing of black tea, exposing the leaves to oxygen is of utmost importance. The next step includes rolling the leaves and spreading them on a table where they are allowed to begin fermenting when exposed to heat. This step of the process is very delicate, and close attention must be paid to humidity, temperature, and the duration of the fermenting period. Any mistakes can result in a tea that possesses a subpar flavour and quality. It is during this process, the oxidation process, that the colour of the tea leaves begins to make their dramatic change from vibrant green to a bright coppery colour, and eventually, black. To cease the fermentation process and give the leaves a thorough drying, they are cured in an artificial heart chamber. This process halts the oxidation before the leaves exceed the appropriate level of fermentation.
Now at the final step called "grading," the tea is sorted in size and the intactness by being fed through a mesh screen. In this grading scale, completely intact leaves receive the highest grade, and dust particles of the leaves receive the lowest. Everything ranging in between gets sorted accordingly. Based on their grade, the leaves are then packed into chests or sacks where they receive a final closer inspection. The Sri Lanka Tea Board has the final say on each batch. The Board samples each shipment to ensure that only the best can make it to global retail. Those leaves that meet quality standards can be exported to other parts of the world!
Ceylon Tea Products; flavours, aromas, and varieties of Ceylon Black Tea
Though Ceylon tea is often thought to be all black tea, other tea types like green and white Ceylon do exist. Ceylon Black Tea or CBT is undoubtedly the nation's specialty, however. The aroma is said to be crisp with hints of citrus and is enjoyed both pure and blended with other spices, herbs, and ingredients. This variety of Ceylon is cultivated on many estates at various altitudes and possessing different flavours.
Ceylon OPI Organic Blackwood
Ceylon OPI Organic Blackwood variation is an incredible black tea. It is cultivated in Sri Lanka's western side in the Dimbula region. The way this tea is dried allows for nutritious oils to be retained even when processed. The aroma and flavour are unique, too, possessing a slightly spicy and aroma and a full, creamy body. Indeed, a masterpiece of tea.
Ceylon Black OP
Orange Pekoe is the zenith of Ceylon tea, with a woody aroma and fruitlike fragrances coming to life with every brewing. This tea is fantastic on its own, or with some accoutrements like milk or sugar. Ceylon is a perfect aid to weight loss and promotes a healthy heart and digestive functions.
Ceylon Green Tea
Interestingly, Ceylon's green tea is cultivated from Assam tea stock. Ceylon green tea is noteworthy because Assam is usually used to produce black tea! Ceylon's green tea is often cultivated in Idalgashinna, which is cultivated in the Uva province. The green tea of Ceylon has a full body and a pungent taste. The Ceylon green teas are also often darker with rich flavours. However, as market tastes shift, Sri Lanka has been using Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Brazilian green tea seed stock. These green tea leaves often have a dazzling bright yellow colour and a delicate and sweeter flavour, more akin to global perceptions of green tea. The major markets for Ceylon green tea are in North Africa and the Middle East.
Ceylon White tea
While black tea is Sri Lanka's specialty, white tea is also highly prized. Ceylon white tea is known as "silver tips" which are grown in Nuwara Eliya, located near Adam's peak at an altitude of 2200-2500 meters. The harvesting and processing methods of Ceylon white are all done by hand. The tea is sun-dried and withered and possesses a delicate and light flavour that has notes of pine and honey. The liquor of the tea is a golden coppery colour, pleasant to behold. There is also white known as "virgin white tea" cultivated at Handunugoda Tea Estate located near Galle in southern Sri Lanka.
Ceylon Tea health benefits
Ceylon teas are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols boast a ton of health benefits. Some polyphenols include gallic acid, theogallin, and also cinnamon acid.
Ceylon tea is beneficial to weight loss. Studies have found that Ceylon tea reduces fat storage and fat formation in our bodies. Ceylon tea can help your body burn fat more efficiently by speeding up metabolism.
Ceylon tea has also been found to be high in potassium. Potassium aids in relaxing our veins and arteries, which is beneficial to our body and heart. By relaxing our veins, our hearts experience less strain and stress, too. Catechins, an active ingredient in Ceylon green tea in particular, also help to reduce the hardening of arteries which can guard against arterial clogs and damage.
Ceylon teas also have a hefty helping of antioxidants. Antioxidants can help to prevent chronic diseases. Both black and green Ceylon, for example, have been found to help guard against the start and spread of some specific types of cancer cells. Ovarian, liver, lung, and prostate cancer are all examples of cancer types that may potentially be possibly inhabited by some of the active compounds found in Ceylon tea.
Ceylon tea helps to regulate both insulin and blood sugar levels. Thus, Ceylon tea is beneficial to people with diabetes. A recent study also suggested that consuming green tea before one takes part in exercise can amplify these effects.
Not only can the antioxidants found in Ceylon tea keep your collagen levels up, reducing signs of ageing, but Green Ceylon tea can also help protect our skin from UV radiation, too.
Ceylon tea has a high amount of caffeine. Caffeine can help us to stay awake, alert, and give us a nice energy boost.
Ceylon tea's caffeine and antioxidants also help prevent kidney stones. That's not all, the polyphenols found in Ceylon also help cleanse our kidneys and rid them of toxins.
Studies have shown that consuming tea can improve bone density and strength. So that is just what Ceylon tea can do by helping prevent osteoporosis.