History of Ceylon Tea

Strange as it may seem, the story of Ceylon Tea begins with coffee. The tale begins in the early 1820s, barely five years after the surrender of Kandy, the last surviving indigenously-ruled state in Ceylon, to the British crown. By then, the rest of the island had already been a British colony for more than a generation. Its possession was considered vital to imperial interests in India and the Far East, but the cost of maintaining the military presence and infrastructure necessary to secure it was prohibitive. Attempts to raise revenue by taxation could not by themselves fill the gap; how to make the colony pay for itself and its garrison was a problem that had troubled successive governors since the first, Frederic North, took office in 1798.

This tenacity is spoken of in plantation legends and can be seen in inscriptions on gravestones of Scots and English pioneer planters - many of whom died prematurely from disease - in Ceylon’s hill country. These bear silent testimony to the harsh conditions in which the tea industry was built and most importantly, to the fearlessness and dedication of the founders of this great industry.;xNLx;;xNLx;The 'History of Ceylon Tea' project is a tribute to those courageous men of whom Conan Doyle spoke, that the memory of their sacrifice and dedication in creating a great and life-giving industry shall not be dimmed with time. The Tea Industry of Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka, is the lifeblood of the country today, providing direct employment to over 500,000 people, and producing for the world a beverage that is healthy, refreshing and delicious. It is an imperative for the future of this industry that we shall not forget the past, and those that made history in creating our tea industry.

1888 - The National Geographic Society (NGS) is founded

The National Geographic Society was founded on January 27, 1888 in Washington D.C. It has gone on to become the world's largest scientific and geographical distribution organization.

1944 - Ceylon Estate Employers' Federation is founded

As the estate based trade union became a significant player in tea plantation sector, estate owners created a collective movement under Ceylon Estate Employers' federation to balance the bargaining power

1798-1805 Governor Hon. Frederick North

1862 The Governor's nomination

1862 The Governor's nomination of Capt. Jolly to a seat in the Legislative Council, without consulting the Planters' Association, creates great agitation: Capt. Jolly ultimately resigns (May).

1831 The Kandy Road via Kurunegala and Galagedera and that via Kadugannawa is completed

1842 A further batch of Assam Tea seedlings are received by the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

1842 A further batch of Assam Tea seedlings are received by the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. These are sent to Nuwara Eliya to the care of E.F. Gapp who cleared a small area of jungle on Sir Anthony Oliphant’s land. Gapp left the island “a few” years later and claimed that the plants were doing well at the time he departed.

1828 Nuwara Eliya established as Military Convalescent Station

1862 At a General Meeting held at Kandy

1862 At a General Meeting held at Kandy, The Planters' Association was remodelled and a new constitution adopted, January.

1872 First sale of Building lots of Crown lands on Horton Plains, July.

1862 Mr. R. J. Corbet, at a General Meeting of the Planters' Association

1862 Mr. R. J. Corbet, at a General Meeting of the Planters' Association, is recommended as a fit person to represent the Planting Interests in the Legislative Council (June).

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