|Sri Lanka's High-Grown Teas
The World's Best Fruity Black Teas
|The pear-shaped tropical island paradise of Sri Lanka lies about 55 miles off the
southwestern tip of India. Even though Sri Lanka is small in size, it packs a
mighty punch when it comes to tea. Just a fraction of the size of tea giants,
China and India, it ranks third in world tea production and depending on where
China falls each year, is either #1 or #2 in tea exports.
|Because of its varied climate
and geography Sri Lanka's growing regions
are divided by elevation, with low-grown teas
grown at elevations of 2,000 feet and below,
medium or mid-grown teas at elevations of
2,000 to 4,000 feet, and high-grown teas,
the ones we're going to explore, grown at
elevations fo 4,000 to 6,500 feet.
Each of these areas has its own climate and
wea- ther patterns and geographic features,
known as terroir, giving the individual teas
their unique characteristics, flavors, and
Sri Lanka's high-grown teas are some of the
best that it has to offer, with brisk, full-bodied
vors, and fragrant aromas, dubbed the
|Best Fruity Black Teas." These high-grown teas make up approximately 25% of Sri Lanka's
yearly tea production.
The island is basically divided down the middle by the Central
Highlands, a mountain range with peaks rising upward of 6,000
feet. From January to May the eastern side of the island is batt-
ered by monsoons, while the tea on the western side peaks,
then in July through October it reverses and the eastern side
tea peaks as the western side is deluged with the monsoonal
winds and rain.
Sri Lanka is divided into six main tea grow-
ing regions of which three are high-grow-
ing; Uva, Nuwara Eliya, and Dimbula which
is probably Sri Lanka's most famous tea
Located in the western part of the Central
Highlands, Dimbula tea grows at 3,500 to
5,000 feet. The area is breathtakingly
beautiful, with lush rain forests, thick green
jungles, and magnificent waterfalls surround-
ing many of the tea gardens.
Dimbula's peak tea season is from December
to March when the monsoons are on
the northern and eastern side of the
island, while in Dimbula the air is cool and crisp, with abundant sunshine.
Neighboring Nuwara Eliya lies at the foot of Sri Lanka's highest mountain, Pidurutalagala
at 8,280 feet (situated at the highest elevation for growing Ceylon teas), with their tea
gardens located at about 6,000 feet.
Nuwara Eliya's teas are light, mellow, and floral, with an
aroma of rock fruits, and a rich golden color, competing
with Darjeeling as some of the world's best black teas.
Here much of the tea grows on steep inclines, but the
worker's seem to pay no heed.
Nuwara Eliya's teas are also plucked during the dry
season of December to March during the time when the
tea peaks and is at its best.
Traveling from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya you'll find the Labookellie Tea Factory, which offers
tours to tourists wanting to learn more about tea. You'll have the opportunity to
observe tea being made up close and personal, so it's a great way to learn more about
your favorite beverage.
The third high-grown region is Uva, ranging in elevation from
2,800 to 6,000 feet, its tea is grown on the eastern-most
slope of the Central Mountains. Uva teas are also known for
their mellow, yet brisk, concentrated flavor, distinctive aroma,
and rusty-red colored infusion.
Uva's peak period is during the summer, June through September. This is because while
the monsoons impact the southern and western regions, a dry, hot wind called the
Cachan, blows from the northeast down into Uva and neighboring Uda Pussellawa
during late July through August.
The tea bushes response to this is to nearly close up on
themselves in self-protection. Their reaction is the same
as it would be during a drought, as they initiate a chem-
ical change within the cells of the leaves to replace the
The Cachan winds can last for six to eight weeks. The
chemical changes inside the leaf gives it a more concentrated flavor unlike any other tea
in the world, resulting in higher prices for this special summer crop.
|For more information or to learn more about tea, visit our other pages:
What are "mid-grown teas" and where are they from?
What are "low-grown teas, and where are they from?
What are tana and jikagise, and what are they
What is CTC tea?
Which region of China is home to the world's
oldest known tree?
Can tea really help me lose weight?
What secret ingredient is added
when making pu-erh tea?
Why are Chinese oolong or wulong
teas so healthy?
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|In the eastern part of Sri Lanka lies the small high-grown tea region of Uda Pussellawa, which also encounters the
dry, Cachan winds from July to September, and which are also of the highest quality, brisk, thirst-quenching teas with
a reddish-rust colored infusion.
Because Uda Pussellawa's tea gardens are somewhat protected from the December to March monsoon season,
they're also able to produce the seasonal peak quality teas during January to March, coinciding with Nuwara Eliya and
Because they lack the chemical changes found in the summer, these winter crop teas are
less flavorful, but still offer up a mellow, brisk and bright cup of tea just like other high-
grown tea areas.
When shopping for Sri Lanka's Ceylon teas, look for the 100% Ceylon teas mark or the
specific gardens or estate, or the logo of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, which is a stylized lion
holding a sword which all genuine Ceylon tea carries. Enjoy.
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