SRI LANKA (ශ්රී ලංකාව)
In 1972 the island of Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka, but its former name, which dates back to the British Empire, has remained in use within the world of tea. It is not unusual to speak of a "Ceylon" to describe a tea from this country.
The English introduced the tea plant in 1857 but it was not really developed until after 1870: in essence tea cultivation in Sri Lanka owes its development to the total destruction, in 1869, by a parasite of the coffee plantations which used to cover the entire island. Today, tea culture is so important that it is currently known as "the tea island".
Sri Lankan teas come from six regions located in the south of the island at altitudes ranging from sea level up to 2,200m. Plucking seasons vary from region to region, depending on when the monsoon is expected that year : low-grown below 600m, mid-grown between 600m and 1200m and high-grown, above 1200m.
A Sri Lankan tea can be recognized by its superb copper colour and its lively, piquant scent. As for the taste, this varies from one region to another, with the higher altitude teas very often being the best.
As in India, tea growing is organized into gardens, with the name being specified whenever a tea comes exclusively from one of them and has not been blended with any other teas.
Taiwan is well known for its semi-oxidised teas called "Wu Long (Oolong)", also called "Black Dragon" in Chinese.
These teas can undergo various levels of fermentation depending on the plantation, something that makes it rather pointless to compare Chinese with Taiwanese methods.
It is the Taiwanese that have long prevailed in the classification of Wu Long (Oolong) teas. Taiwanese teas are therefore classified according to their degree of fermentation and not to their method of production.