14th June, 2017


150 years ago, the pioneers of Ceylon Tea, cultivated the land, built the infrastructure and laid out the foundation for an industry to be nurtured and grown. Today, producing 350 million kilograms annually and employing over two percent of the population of Sri Lanka, Ceylon Tea has become one of the top five export earners for our country. Tea, inherently, has been Sri Lanka’s most important agricultural commodity. With its beginning in 1867, when the enterprising young Scotsman James Taylor experimented with tea as a replacement for the then disease ridden Coffee industry, the Ceylon Tea industry celebrates its 150th year anniversary in 2017.

The Colombo Tea Traders’ Association (CTTA) together with the Sri Lanka Tea Board, and supported by The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all the stakeholders of the Tea Industry, is celebrating this momentous sesquicentennial of the industry that sustained Sri Lanka’s economy for over 100 hundred years with many events taking place throughout 2017.

The celebrations began with the unveiling of James Taylor’s monument at the Sri Lanka Tea Board‘s premises in January 2017.  Two Educational fairs too were held, one in Nuwara-Eliya and the other in Pilimathalawe, with the aim of educating the children of plantation families on the importance of the tea industry and its sustenance. A Tea festival to is being planned to bring people from various sectors and countries, together.

A major event planned by the CTTA is the Global Ceylon Tea Party. Beginning in Fiji, down to New Zealand and continuing in every time zone a tea party will be held in the relevant Countries at 5.00 p.m. in each time zone on 6th of July 2017. This will make it a continuous, twenty four hour global Ceylon Tea party.  With the endorsement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, the CTTA will coordinate the tea parties, which will be hosted in the relevant time zones by the Heads of Missions of Sri Lanka.  The CTTA is also supported in this venture by Sri Lanka’s oldest confectioner Maliban Biscuits who have produced a biscuit with the 150 year logo in a special flavour of Earl Grey and also of Ginger, especially for the global tea party.

A charity auction of Tea and tea memorabilia , in which the eight main operating Brokers of the Colombo Tea Auction will be presenting five tea related sterling silver items, such as a tea pot, a model of the oldest tea roller, a tea tasting scale and a gavel, a model tea tasting set etc., will be auctioned.  The funds collected from the charity auction will go towards activities to improve the quality of life and provision of health benefits of the estate workers. The Tea Industry will also release a publication on the history of its 150 year existence with interesting and beautiful illustrations of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country.  The launch of this publication will take place on the same day as the charity auction, on 20th of July.

Furthermore, two stamps and a first day cover as well as a Rs.10/- coin which will be in circulation will be issued in celebration of the 150 years of Ceylon Tea. This commemorative coin too will be ceremonial released for public circulation in July 2017.

The grand finale of the 150th Anniversary will be the Tea Convention, which is expected to be attended by more than 200 overseas delegates. Eminent global speakers will discuss topics ranging from tea to motivation, packaging and mechanization etc., towards empowering the future of the Tea industry in Sri Lanka.

The many events planned to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Ceylon Tea will reflect the importance of the industry that has immensely contributed to the economy of Sri Lanka for 150 years and strategies for its sustenance in the future, too.