When you hear of regions called Uva or Shiraz you probably think of wine growing areas. Unfortunately you are not right. Or how Sri Lankan’s would say ‘norightrightright’ (imagine it pronounced with kind of an Indian accent). In general it seems like whenever local people are confronted with saying a short word they keep repeating it as many times needed until the word gets a reasonable length for them. But let’s not get carried away, this post is meant to be all about tea. In fact, neither the Uva province in Sri Lanka nor Shiraz in Iran produce wine. Even though there are loads of grapes in Shiraz you will only find tea growing in Uva.
Black teas grown in Sri Lanka are known as Ceylon tea. They all vary depending on the elevation the tea is grown at. These varieties include Morawak Korale, Kandy, Uva, Dambulla, Dickoya and Nuwara Eliya. We are in Uva where tea is grown at 1,100 to 1,700 meters above sea level on the eastern slopes of Sri Lanka’s central mountains. The tea here is know to have a truly unique flavour also described as ‘exotically aromatic’. Uva tea is often mixed with many different flavours but, with its special characteristics it is also delicious drinking it pure. Lucky us got the chance to visit one of Sri Lankas famous black tea estates.
Finlays is one of the largest independent tea traders in the world. With many different estates and factories they sell their freshly dried leaves to companies all over the globe. Each day 10,000kg of freshly picked tea leaves result in 2,500kg of black tea after passing through the four following steps:
- Withering: dries the leaves with warm air and takes 50% moisture out.
- Rolling: breaks and grinds the leaves.
- Firing: takes the remaining moisture out and leaves the tea powder as we know it.
- Grading: evaluates the powder based on quality and condition (by size and colour). The result is 22 different types of tea.
The tea is now ready for packaging and to be sold to tea brokers or in our case to enjoy a nice cuppa.