"Ceylon Tea" has been prized for its unique flavour, colour & character, which cannot be readily found elsewhere. The humidity, cool temperatures, sunshine and rainfall (two monsoons) in the country's central and southern highlands are conducive to the manufacture of unique quality teas. Tea plantations are scenic and pristine. Tea is grown, handpicked and processed in an artisanal process, unchanged for over a century.
The renowned Tea Research Institute strictly monitors use of pesticides [which are needed in minimal quantities due to the humid climate]. Ceylon Tea is reputed as the "cleanest tea in the world" in respect of pesticide residues due to these stringent controls. Ceylon tea is divided into three groups: High Grown, Mid Grown, and Low Grown tea based on the elevation and geography of the land on which it is grown. This is similar to the concept of terroir in winemaking. Ceylon Tea has unique characteristics and is known for superior flavor for its high grown teas and exquisite leaf appearance for low grown teas, much favoured in the Middle East.
With 8% of the global production Sri Lanka is the 4th largest manufacturer of tea in the world after China, India & Kenya. Since China is predominantly a green tea producer while India & Kenya mainly produce CTC teas, Sri Lanka is the leading manufacturer of orthodox black tea to the world. Sri Lanka is also the second largest tea exporter to the world after Kenya since China & India constitute of a huge domestic consumption. The export share of Sri Lanka in the global tea market is registered at around 18% as against that of Kenya which is about 22%. Since Kenya exports CTC teas in entirety, Sri Lanka is acclaimed as the world's largest exporter of orthodox black tea. Tradition is probably the most suitable word that can explain tea in the Sri Lankan context. With almost 45% of all exports in value added form, tea trade in Sri Lanka is way ahead of its competitors such as India which exports around 10% of its off-takes in packaged form and Kenya only 7%. Sri Lanka is also the first tea producing country in the world which introduced nation branding with "Ceylon Tea" linked to the Lion logo symbol. The industry proudly acknowledges attempts of few dynamic entrepreneurs and visionaries for building globally renowned tea brands which no other tea producing country has achieved so far.
The tea industry in Sri Lanka has created many global records in various fields and avenues. The country could boast of a highly transparent Tea Auction system in Colombo rated as the largest in the world for a single origin and always yields the fastest turnaround of tea to cash for the farmers. In respect of agro-chemical pesticide residues, Ceylon Tea has been regularly acclaimed as the cleanest by independent analysts/research labs around the world. Sri Lanka also received the accolade from Montreal Protocol in Canada as the only "Ozone Friendly Tea" in the world. Several industry players in Sri Lanka have received United Nations Global Compact Awards which other countries are yet to achieve. The contribution for Carbon Credit programs and the commitments for Corporate Social Responsibility are high. While the industry is ILO compatible it is a role model for the United Nations Environmental Program and fulfils most of the millennium goals.
Diversity in speciality
The diversity in speciality of its orthodox tea process has been the power and strength of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Dimbula, Uda Pussellawa, Kandy, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa are the prime tea-growing regions of Sri Lanka. Over the years, Sri Lanka has earned a reputation as a producer of high quality tea and "Ceylon Tea" is synonymous with quality and taste. Ceylon Tea and 07 agro climate regional teas have been registered as geographical indications to prevent misuse of Sri Lankan Teas by overseas packers. Sri Lanka exports a large quantity of tea packets and tea bags to add value to its tea than any other tea producing country in the World. The value added tea exports account for nearly 45% of the total export volume. "Ceylon Tea" is exported in a wide range of packets i.e. box board cartons, foil packs, soft wooden boxes, metal cans, ceramic jars, wooden boxes etc. The tea bags component has now reached 22 million kgs per year.
Sri Lanka Tea Board, the apex government body responsible for development and promotion of Ceylon Tea, has taken many steps to ensure that all teas produced and exported from Sri Lanka adhere to the minimum quality standards of ISO 3720. The promotion of Ceylon Tea linked to the lion logo the symbol of quality, which is the trademark of the Sri Lanka Tea Board. Ceylon Tea Lion Logo that appears on Ceylon tea packs denotes not only the country of origin but also the quality of Ceylon Tea.