Globally, Sri Lanka (formerly, Ceylon) is the third-largest tea exporter, supplying 19% of the world’s tea; within the country, the tea industry is the largest employer. Ceylon has been designated an “ozone friendly tea” and was given the Montreal Protocol implementer’s award.
This mountainous island is well suited for tea, allowing year-round harvests and yielding a range of teas with unique qualities:
(1) low-grown tea (under 2,000 feet in altitude), strong and usually drunk with milk;
(2) mid-grown tea (2,000–4,000 feet), with a rich flavor; and
(3) high-grown tea (above 4,000 feet), the premium teas.
The tea districts in the central highlands are Uva in the east, Dimbula in the west, and Nuwara Eliya between them, in a small planting area that is 6° north of the equator but over 6,000 feet in altitude. Over the years, growers in this area have manipulated the plants to produce a tea with distinct properties.
The full-bodied Ceylon black teas also serve as the base for many blends, including breakfast teas, Earl Grey teas, and other aroma blends.