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Pure Ceylon Tea

Undoubtedly the world’s most famous brand of tea, Ceylon tea is shipped around the world from a tiny tear-drop shaped island in the Indian Ocean, known as Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has retained Ceylon Tea’s mystical allure from Colonial times till today through its stringent controls on quality from the plantation to its packing. Sri Lanka’s beautifully contoured land and diverse climatic conditions are the secret to growing such high quality tea.

To ensure the authenticity and distinction of Ceylon Tea, it must be grown and manufactured in Sri Lanka and conform to strict quality standards stipulated by the Sri Lanka Tea Board. Tea bearing the Lion logo must not only be grown and manufactured in Sri Lanka, but also has to be packed in the island. St. Clair’s products conform to these stipulations and carry the Lion logo. Thus it ensures that consumers can distinguish real Ceylon Tea from the other sources of non-specific origin. Moreover, the skill of the blender lends itself to a consistent product, whereby the quality of single-origin teas, emulate the character of this highly prized Pure Ceylon Tea.

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Since protecting the ozone layer is a top priority, Sri Lanka has geared herself to achieving this through vast strides in environmental astuteness. All tea grown in Sri Lanka is now 100% ozone-friendly. Sri Lanka was acclaimed a’leader’in ozone layer protection and received the Montreal Protocol implementer’s award.

The 7 Regions

Kandy

This is the tea-growing district where it all began, when James Taylor, the pioneer of Ceylon tea started the first plantation. Tea grown in the Kandyan region is described as ‘mid-grown’, at an altitude between 650m and 1,300m (2,000 -4,000ft). The weather mainly influenced by the southwest monsoons with winds blowing up the mountain passes is diffused in the valleys. As a result the tea that is produced is stronger and deeper-coloured than the rest of the region. The teas of the Kandy region are thought to be flavorsome though its strength is inversely proportionate to the elevation they are grown in. The tea grown at lower elevation produce a larger leaf resulting in a stronger flavor, and those higher up grow a smaller leaf with a more subtle and delicate flavor. ‘Grades’ or leaf-particle sizes range from whole-leaf and semi-broken grades through broken orange pekoes or’BOPs’to BOP fannings. Kandy teas produce a relatively bright infusion with a coppery tone.

Nuwara Eliya

The best known of Sri Lanka’s tea-growing districts, Nuwara Eliya is the most rugged and mountainous with the highest average elevation at 1,868m (6,128ft). The air cool and bracing has winds scented with eucalyptus and wild mint. With moderate rainfall during the dry season, cold and frosty nights make for its unique climate and its terrain ensures a tea recognized by connoisseurs as among the finest – if not the finest – in the world.

Nuwara Eliya enjoys two’quality seasons’the eastern and western. The balance between the two varies from estate to estate where a short drive from one to another can see a complete change of weather. The tea has a rarefied and refined quality that easily sets it apart from low-growns. High altitude and year-round low temperatures produce a very slow- growing bush with unusually small leaves that take on an orange hue – only a hint against the blackness – after withering. The infused leaf is greenish-yellow and the infusion in the cup is the palest with a subtle golden hue and a delicate yet fragrant bouquet. The most sought after whole-leaf orange pekoe (OP), and the slightly less costly yet still expensive broken orange pekoe (BOP) make up Nuwara Eliya teas which are stronger and less subtle.

Uda Pussellawa

This region is between Kandy and Uva, on the eastern slopes of the hill country. Though small and thinly-populated it is almost entirely dedicated to tea cultivation. Due to its location, Uda Pussellawa enjoys climatic conditions very different from those of the western regions. Receiving the bulk of its weather from the northeast monsoon system between November and January, the climate is mostly wet and misty. It also enjoys some’blow-over’from the southwest monsoon between June and September, so with two’quality seasons’, Uda Pussellawa at a somewhat lower elevation of 950m – 1,600m (3,000 – 5,000ft) produces tea which is darker in the cup, with a pinkish hue and a hint of greater strength. So the eastern quality season produces the best teas of the year. The dry, cold conditions during the latter period, adds a hint of rose to the bouquet of tea known for its medium body and subtle character.

Uva

Uva is Sri Lanka’s most remote province. Access to its provincial capital Badulla is over steep winding mountainous routes. The hills and winds of Uva impart a special unmistakable character and flavor to the tea that grows there, one that is highly-prized by trader and connoisseur alike.

The uniqueness of Uva tea is recognized all over the world and it was with this tea that the great Victorian magnate Sir Thomas Lipton persuaded Americans to take up tea drinking. Experts credit this unique character to the Uva climate which is exposed to both northeast and southwest monsoon system winds. The weather is relatively dry during the ‘quality season’and yet the climatic balance in each slope is governed by orientation and exposure; deep passes or gaps funnel the monsoon through.

Estates in the Uva region, mainly in the Idalgashinna area, also produce a substantial amount of green tea from Assamese stock.

Dimbula

Between the two high plateau of Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains lies the tea-growing district of Dimbula, the name derived from the valley which lies at the heart of the region. It is also part of the true Mayarata, or land of illusions, attributed to being the haunt of demons and evil spirits where few ventured to. With an elevation of only 1,250m (400ft), it is still specified as’high grown’. The teas of the district were found to produce a distinctive flavor, prized by tea-lovers to this day. Dimbula yields the best teas during the’quality season’of March to early April when the air is cool and crisp by day and cold and windy at night. The character of Dimbula teas is a fine golden-orange hue in the cup with a distinctive freshness that leaves a clean feeling in the mouth.

Sabaragamuwa

Sri Lanka’s biggest tea-growing region has increased in importance since the expansion of markets for Ceylon tea to the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. The teas are mainly low-grown with elevation ranging from sea level to around 800m (2,500ft). The Sabaragamuwa tea-growing district covers most of the western and southwestern faces of the central mountains of Sri Lanka. The tea shows a little more variation in character compared with the other low-grown tea of Ruhuna. It is a dark yellow-brown with a reddish tint in the dry season. The ‘nose’ or aroma is noticeably different from ruhuna with a hint of sweet caramel and not quite as strong. This is due to the reduced exposure to the monsoon.

Ruhuna

The Ruhuna tea-growing district lies in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The terrain of coastal plain with low hills towards the interior lies mostly in the western part of the province, within the wet zone watered by the southwest monsoon.

Sustainable cultivation methods

Not merely a catch-phrase, but a practice in all aspects of cultivation, manufacture, storage, transport and distribution, sustainability has been firmly set in motion in all tea growing districts in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka produces the world’s only ozone-friendly tea, certified under the Montreal Protocol on greenhouse gases.

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