The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
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
aromas.

Sri Lanka's high-grown teas are some of the
best that it has to offer, with brisk, full-bodied
fruity fla-
vors, and fragrant aromas, dubbed the
"Worlds
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
growing region.

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
                                                            lost moisture.

                                                            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.

          
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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
Dimbula's harvests.

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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