Ceylon is one of those rare teas that has the ability to stand strongly and deliciously on its own, as well as the humility to play a supporting role in a blend.
What is Ceylon tea?
Like many other teas, Ceylon tea gets its name from the geographic region in which it is grown. Even though the country is now called Sri Lanka, the tea has kept its original name. Tea has been thriving on the island since 1867 after cinnamon and coffee plantations failed. The best teas are grown at mid and high level elevations. The tea grown at lower elevations has more astringency, which a favorite of many in the Middle Eastern countries. Tea is grown using the contour planting methods that the tea bushes are planted in lines in coordination with the contours of the land.
Most often, Ceylon refers to black tea. But the region also produces green teas and notable white teas. All teas in Sri Lanka are still harvested solely by hand, never machine, which can’t be said of all teas grown in other countries. Historically, the leaves were picked only by women, who were minimally paid and given horrendous living conditions on the tea plantations. Wages and working conditions are better today, but still not where they should be.
The Ceylon tea we carry comes from the Pettiagalla Estate (est. 1880), and is a FOP tea. That doesn’t mean it’s a well-dressed man, but is a label for the leaf size. FOP stands for flowery orange pekoe, meaning the tea is of high quality with a long leaf and few tips. To this day, no one is quite sure how the leaf-grading nomenclature was developed; orange pekoe teas have nothing to do with oranges. But this is the system that has been used for well over a century now, and it’s not going anywhere.
The Beauty of Ceylon Tea
If you’re looking to upgrade your bags of Lipton (please do), if you love iced tea or sun tea, or if you love a strong and balanced black tea, Ceylon is your tea. It will even stand up well to milk or lemon, if that’s your cup of tea.
We also use Ceylon as a base in many of the teas that we blend. It makes for a blend where the flavor of the tea comes through as a compliment to the other ingredients without overpowering them.
If you’re not already a fan of hers, give Ceylon a try. Especially if you’re a black tea fan, you can’t go wrong.