The Legend of Ceylon Tea
It was in 1824 that the first tea plant was brought from China by the British and planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, Kandy. It is considered to be the first non-commercial tea crop to be grown in the country. Close to two decades later, in 1867 James Taylor, a Scotsman was given the task of growing tea on just 19 acres of land in Loolecondera Estate in Kandy. This is considered the first commercial crop of tea to be grown. With the devastating coffee blight that swept through the coffee plantations, coffee cultivators moved over to tea as an alternative commercial crop. Taylor earger to experiment with tea, soon set up his own tea 'factory' probably the first in the country in the verandah of his bungalow in Loolecondera Estate. Here the leaves were rolled by hand on tables and the firing done on clay stoves over charcoal fires, with wire trays to air the leaves. The end result was a delicious tea, probably the first commercial cup to be brewed. Taylor later created basic machinery for rolling the leaves, had many people to support him process the tea, and a year later he sent the 23 pounds of tea to London. Taylor continued to develop the tea industry with his innovative thinking until he died in 1892 at the age of fifty seven.