Ceylon Tea

Picture of Ceylon Tea
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This well known black tea hails from the lands of Sri Lanka, and is loved for its rich, bold flavor. Depending on where it’s grown in the country, it can have varying textures and tastes. It can also be called Sri Lankan tea.

The What and Where

To be given the Ceylon tea name, it must be packaged in Sri Lanka, so if any oversea sellers attempt to sell the tea –even if it’s made with 100% Sri Lankan tea –it can’t be given the proper certification. This certification is a symbol for quality, and it depicts a spotted lion holding a sword.

The tea plant is hand cultivated, resulting in wirey dried leaf and a bright brewed tea. This hand processed technique is called orthodox.

Sri Lanka was known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, because of its size and rarity. Before Sri Lanka got its name it was known for generations as Ceylon, and was a British colony in 1824 when the British brought a tea plant over from China. It was planted in the Royal British Gardens in Peradeniya –which still has one of the largest catalogs of Ceylon tea plants.

Types of Ceylon Tea

Most Sri Lankan teas are black, but some growers have created green and other tea offerings also. There are different regions that grow the tea plants around the country –seven –all at an array of altitudes.

The teas are then categorized by the heights they’re grown at: low grown, from sea level to 2,000 ft; medium grown, between 2,000 ft and 4,000ft; and high grown, above 4,000 ft.

Tea plantation in Sri Lanka

Flavor Profiles Based on Altitude

Although Sri Lanka is a small country, it has many different types of lands which all have varying soil, temperatures, and climates, so this all impacts the broad flavors Ceylon tea can have. It’s loved for its full-body profile, often with notes of spices and citrus.

Some of these teas may develop a deep bitter taste when brewed long, and could hold a good portion of milk while the beautiful floral citrus-like tea flavor still comes through. Iced Ceylon tea is enjoyed sweetened with sugar or honey and lemon juice or a wedge.

Low Grown: In the low level regions like Sabaragamuwa and Ruhana are where rich, orange and red teas like orange pekoes are made. They’ll have sweet touches of honey, sooth chocolate or a sultry caramel.

Medium grown: This region, Kandy, is prone to monsoons, so depending on the impact the winds had on the plants that season this will change the. It’s another dark and bold Ceylon tea, and this one is usually caramel toned with a sweet and nutty taste.

Medium to high grown: In Dimbula, there are a range of slopes on this mountain area, so the richness varies, but the flavors are usually subtle. Some of these are soft while others have the typical Ceylon full-richness.

High grown: This region, Uva, creates a sweet and savory taste unlike any other. The smell of these dried teas could be compared to dried hickory or fresh chopped lumber. It’s amazing with milk, its natural sweetness, or developed with more sweeteners added. This area also creates white teas.

The highest grown: This territory is known for their creations for light and floral teas. From Nuwara Eliya, these teas are best iced and with lemon. They’re bright in taste and color.

How to Brew and Enjoy

Ceylon teas are dark and sensuous, but can be delicate depending on how long it’s steeped for. The longer, the darker.

To brew it, add 1 tbsp of leaves to a pot of boiling water, somewhere between 194 degrees Fahrenheit and 205 degrees. Cover, and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

A first-time taster should sip it plain in order to decide what to add. It’s a perfect self-drinker, it’s good enough on its own. Anything added will most likely bring the strong flavor of the tea forward, it’s not something to hide.

Mix-in any additions immediately after steeping, and start sipping.

If planning on having it iced, mix add-ins while it’s warm, and then let it cool. Put it in the fridge until cold. Serve with ice and lemon.

Iced sun tea should be a staple in every house, and can be enjoyed fresh out of the sun too.

Storage Info

Most tea lovers would say that purchasing loose leaves will result in the best quality, but the flavor could be just as pungeout as with tea bags. Tea bags will keep for at least three months, and the leaves about 6 months to a year if stored in an airtight container. It’s always recommended to keep stored tea away from any strong odors, heat, or humidity, but Ceylon tea is pretty strong and may keep its flavor given those factors.

How Much Caffeine?

Since all teas vary so much depending on the region, it’s fair to say there’s going to be a good amount of caffeine inside these leaves. This is why it makes a great cup for breakfast or midday afternoon.

Fresh dried leaves will have less caffeine than a tea bag, and the caffeine level will increase the longer it’s steeped.

Typically in an 8 oz cup of Ceylon black tea there could be 50 to 90 mg of caffeine. White teas will have the least, at around 6 mg, and green teas may have about 35 mg.

More Nutrients Details

Ceylon teas can have around 30 calories, and 5.7 g of carbohydrates.

A Must Try

For hundreds of years Sri Lanka has been growing its tea all over its broad landscape. From seascapes to hilltops this ordinary tea plant transforms its flavor on the outcome of its soil and weather conditions. The tea may taste bright and light from one place, but bold and full from another. It’s perfect when served warm or cold, sweetened or not, loaded with milk, or just as it is.