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Sri Lanka has been one of the main contributors to the international tea market since the latter stage of the 18th century; at present, it meets 11% of the global tea demand. Today, the country exports tea to a number of nations in West and East Asia, Europe, and North America. In Sri Lanka, tea is produced under a combination of the traditional and modern processes, with black tea being the most popular variety. Tea in Sri Lanka is grown mainly in the Kandy and Nuwara Eliya districts of the Central Province, as well as in several other regions of the Uva and Southern provinces.
Tea grown in highlands such as Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, and Uda Pussellawa are the most sought-after for their bright colour, and greater flavour and freshness. Tea from Dimbula has a distinctive golden orange hue, as well as a clean and pleasant aftertaste. Teas from the other two highland areas have higher strength and flavour, and are darker with a pinkish hue. These teas are rarer and more refined than their midland and lowland counterparts.
Tea grown in the midlands comes from the Kandy, Badulla, and Bandarawela areas. Tea from Kandy bears a light coppery hue when brewed, while still retaining a good deal of strength. The teas from the other two areas, which belong to the Uva Province, have a mellow and smooth taste that is distinguishable from all other teas in the country.
Tea from the lowlands are mainly from the Sabaragamuwa and Southern Provinces. Their leaves are long, and turn black upon withering. When brewed, they bear burgundy hue, with hints of caramel in the aroma. Lowland teas are strong and full-flavoured teas with hints of malt.
The tea-manufacturing process consists of four steps: withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. Once the leaves are plucked from plantations, they are weighed and spread on tats and withered for 18 to 24 hours. They are then rolled once the moisture percentage is between 50% and 70%. In the rolling stage, tea leaves are twisted and torn with machines so that their enzymes could undergo aeration. However, tea leaves that are to be bagged are introduced to Crushing, Tearing, and Curling (CTC) Machines.
In the fermentation phase, the sifted leaves are placed under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity to undergo chemical reactions. The final stage of the process involves the leaves being put in a mechanised drier at temperatures between 99°C and 104℃. It is continued until the moisture concentration of the leaves drops to 3%.
Prior to packaging, tea leaves are separated using sieves and meshes in order to be graded; this is carried out according to size and quality. The grades range from Dust (D); Fanning (F), which are leaves slightly bigger than the former; as well as Pekoe (P), Orange Pekoe (OP), and Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP), which are larger, coarse leaves. The OP grade differs from its Pekoe counterpart by age as they are leaves plucked from the ends of branches. Furthermore, the Flowery Orange Pekoe grade has tips of leaf buds as well. The Dust category is both the smallest and widely-consumed tea grade in the country. Other black tea grades produced in the country include Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP), Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning (BOPF), Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe (FBOP), and Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fanning (FBOPF).
With a wide variety of tea in our stores, we at Silk Cooperation endeavour to supply some of the finest and freshest tea available in both local and international markets. The company ensures efficient services with its secure packaging, as well as swift shipping.
Find out more about our extensive range of Ceylon Teas below: