Five per cent of all the world's tea is produced in Sri Lanka and this year is a special one - the150th anniversary of commercial tea growing in the country .

The Sri Lanka Tea Board is a government body responsible for the development and promotion of 'Ceylon' Tea and it will be sharing the celebrations in Johannesburg this year when it exhibits again at SAITEX 2017 alongside the co-located Africa's Big 7, food and beverage expo.

It promises quality alongside the traditional process saying "much of the black tea produced in Sri Lanka is by the orthodox process. The plucking of tea leaves is done manually, rather than using shears, to make certain that only the unopened leaf bud and two leaves are plucked.”

SLTB will be feature the full range of teas produced on the island of 50 million people south of the Indian continent: black, green, organic, and instant tea.

Pavithri Peiris, Assistance Director-Promotion of the Board said: “We believe, Africa's Big 7 is an important trade exhibition in the development of food and beverage and other industries in African region. This expo in Johannesburg can be considered as a unique platform to interact with a large number of trade visitors/decision makers all over the region.

"Black tea is still accounting for the largest share in volume of tea sales in South Africa and 'tea' remains the first choice in hot beverages for most consumers in South Africa.
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"Tea plays a central role in social rituals across the continent, whether served as a refreshment to accompany meals, or offered as a show of hospitality to guests. Therefore, South Africa is an important market in the African region to promote the 'Ceylon' Tea and it is within our radar of target markets for the Global Ceylon tea promotional campaign.”

Pavithri says: “The Sri Lanka tea industry received another feather in its hat in 2008 when the Montreal Protocol recognised Ceylon Tea as “ozone friendly” the only tea to have achieved such a feat."

The Sri Lanka Tea Board, in collaboration with the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association, is organising a number of celebratory events to coincide with its 150th anniversary.

In January it unveiled a sculptured monument of James Taylor at its head office in Colombo, by the Hon. Navin Dissanayake, Minister of Plantation Industries, in the presence of Mr Mihindu Kulasooriya, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Plantation Industries, Mr Rohan Pethiyagoda - Chairman, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Mr Anselm Perera - Chairman, Colombo Tea Traders' Association.

Scotsman James Taylor is the "Father of Ceylon Tea" and started commercial cultivation of tea in Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then known, in 1867 at Loolecondera Estate, Hewaheta.

With the decline in Coffee in the late 1860s, in 1867, Taylor pioneered the commercial cultivation of Tea on Loolecondera estate. Tea soon replaced Coffee, which was the main cash crop of the island, hitherto, on account of the “plant blight” that devastated the coffee plantations.

It was Taylor's fortitude, vision and indefatigability that created this significantly successful agricultural enterprise - The Tea Industry of Ceylon, and it is to him that Ceylon Tea owes its worldwide fame.

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