Jun 10, 2017

History of Caylon Tea | Sri Lanka

I usually like postcards that show the way of living in a certain country, so this was an immediate hit. It shows locals plucking up tea in County Estate, Ceylon. The evolution of tea in Ceylon is an extraordinary story. While tea is the obvious focus in this tale, it is in fact the culminating result of what was a remarkable plantation enterprise that commenced under British colonial rule post-1796. This enterprise embarked with coffee growing as its core harvest, and indeed, the first coffee plantation preceded tea by nearly half a century. Ceylon coffee progressed to being amongst the world’s best, before the ‘coffee rust disease’ decimated the industry, by the 1870s.

This gave rise to the tea industry of Ceylon, which not only flourished, but proceeded to gain repute as the world’s finest tea. While James Taylor is the rightfully acknowledged pioneer, the success of the industry had numerous benefactors, across multiple fields. Roads, railways, bridges and tunnels; botanists, engineers, surveyors, and even politicians. It was this cohesion and collective contribution from the various professional spheres that enabled the industry to prosper as it did.

The Estate Register is a record of most, if not all of the plantations established, at some point in time or another. These records have been obtained from the Ferguson’s Directories. Several plantations had their beginnings in coffee before switching to tea. Many are still in operation, while some have merged with neighboring plantations, and others have ceased to exist altogether. Data entry has been a painstaking process – not the least due to the poor condition of the documents from which the information was extracted. Consequently, the information is not flawless, and the process of cleaning up the database will be an on-going exercise for the foreseeable future. [Source: History of Ceylon Tea]


The card was posted on 29 March 1955 and a 50c Ceylon stamp was used. British Ceylon (Sinhala: බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය ලංකාව, Britanya Lankava; Tamil: பிரித்தானிய இலங்கை, Birithaniya Ilangai), known contemporaneously as Ceylon, was a British Crown colony between 1802 and 1948. At first the area it covered did not include the Kingdom of Kandy, which was a protectorate from 1815, but from 1817 to 1948 the British possessions included the whole island of Ceylon, now the nation of Sri Lanka.

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