What is Ceylon/Sri Lankan Tea?

This tropical island in South Asia produces over 318 million kilos of tea (2009).  This has slowed somewhat over the last few years due to the global financial crisis, strife and uncertain times in countries who are major buyers of Ceylon tea.

The tea estates are located at elevations from 400m to 2450m.  It’s the differences in altitude which creates microclimates and this gives the teas their distinctive flavor profiles.

There are 6 principal growing regions in Sri Lanka:

Low – Mid Growing: Ratnapura

Mid Growing: Kandy

High Growing or Upcountry: Dimbula, Nuwara Eliya, Uda Pussellawa, Uva

Each of these areas has its own unique weather patterns and the terroir contributes to its distinctive taste and fragrance.

The low to mid grown teas are quite robust.

Whereas the mid grown teas are more abundant in strength and gives a strong colour to the brew.

Black tea is what Sri Lanka is renowned for, followed by green tea and white tea.

Teapairing with some Typical Sri Lankan Teatime Treats

The Sweet Life

There will always be a butter cake.  Teas from Upcountry would work a treat here. On special occasions Love Cake will be served.  The recipe for the Love Cake is on a previous blog post.  Check that out for Mother’s day celebrations, include a tea from the mid-growing region.

There will defiantly be sweets that made with red rice flour and wheat – chippie.  These are deep fried and then plunged into sugar syrup.  When its dries, it’s encrusted in sugar candy. You will want a tea that holds ups to this – low grown teas would be fantastic

Laddus made of semolina, cashews, raisins molded with love, pair these with teas from Kandy or Uva.

The Savory Side

Rolls filled with minced goat/mutton/chicken/fish, wrapped in a thin pancake, coated in breadcrumbs and fried.  These demand a robust low grown tea

Pattis are Sri Lanka’s pastry and these too have a similar filling to rolls.  This too needs a strong tea to stand up to the spices and meat

Vaadi, mung dhal or chana dhal socked and softened, ground, spices, fined chopped onions and green challis.  Served with a green chili sambal.  A mid grown tea would be ideal, no milk is needed. 

Muruku, make partly with rice flour, cumin, chili powder and water.  The batter is squeezed through into hot oil and fried.  Tea from Kandy would be an excellent partner.

There are so much more and I will over the coming months talk and post about those too.  Would love to know if you have had these before and what you thought of them.