A 150 Year Love Affair: The Story of Ceylon Tea

For 150 years since 1987, the world has been drinking Ceylon tea. From Sri Lanka to England, then...

For 150 years since 1987, the world has been drinking Ceylon tea. From Sri Lanka to England, then to Europe, America, and the rest of the world, it has been filling the cups and hearts of generations. From the days of James Taylor’s first home-made brew to your cup of Zesta tea today, it seems that everything has changed except for the taste of Ceylon tea.

Rewind to the Beginning!

It was February 1852 when the 18-year-old Scotsman first set his foot on the plantation hills in the centre of Ceylon. The young man was James Taylor, surrounded by coffee plants as far as he could see. At that time, he couldn’t have guessed he would become loved and successful as the pioneer of a massive industry that is yet to start.

As the story goes, Taylor was both hard-working and very lucky. Soon after he arrived at the Loolecondera plantation, he was entrusted with its management. Later on, he was sent to India where he learnt about growing tea. At the same time, in Ceylon, coffee crops across plantations were slowly dying of blight, including his own. For Taylor, it was a blessing in disguise. The troublesome crops gave him an opportunity to grow tea on his plantations instead.

In 1867, he planted the first seeds of tea on his plantation. His decision, still celebrated today, proved to be a smart one and his fascination for tea grew further. He began manufacturing tea at his home, rolling it by hand and firing on clay pots. Later, he built the first tea factory and, even more impressively, constructed the tea producing machines by himself – based on what he read and learnt, and a fair deal of experiments. Taylor was admired by the locals, workers, and fellow coffee planters who followed his steps to tea production, one by one.

But, since the days of Taylor much has happened. The world has fought wars, conquered dictators; we have seen men step foot on the moon, and invented ways of communicating that a man planting the first tea seeds in Sri Lanka’s hill country couldn’t imagine. Still, some things have always stayed the same.

Picked by hand, following the same procedure that Taylor once introduced, Zesta tea is proud to be part of the exciting journey of Ceylon tea – the tea that changed a nation and conquered the world. Cheers!