Before Ceylon (today Sri Lanka) became famous for its tea, the island was home to extensive cinnamon cultivation by the Dutch, starting in the eighteenth century. This was followed by the development of coffee plantations by the British in the nineteenth century. Around 1870 a fungal disease known as coffee blight resulted in a steep decline in coffee production. Coffee planters began growing tea instead, and by the end of the century, tea was the predominant crop.
A Scottish coffee grower named James Taylor began growing tea before the coffee blight and was able to ship a relatively small amount of Ceylon tea by 1872. More tea plantations were established, including some at higher altitudes, where planters built mountain bungalows from which they could survey their crops.
Today, growers in Sri Lanka export 300 million kilograms of tea around the world. Tea auctions began in Sri Lanka in 1883 and have since become the largest in the world. An important part of the economy of Sri Lanka, year-round tea production employs one million people and is a significant source of government revenue.
The Sri Lanka Tea Board is the regulatory and administrative body of the Sri Lankan tea industry. Established in 1976, it includes representatives from both private sector and the government.
Widely believed to be the finest in the world, Ceylon tea is perfectly blended to combine the flavors and aromas of leaves grown at both low and high altitudes. The result is a golden tea with distinctively rich and mellow flavor.