What is Ceylon Tea?

Mary McMahon

Ceylon tea is a particularly prized form of black tea from Sri Lanka. It has a golden color and rich, intense flavor which many tea consumers greatly appreciate, and it is used straight as well as in tea blends. Sri Lanka is one of the largest tea producers in the world, and Ceylon tea can be found all over the world as a result. Particularly fine highland varieties can also get quite costly, as they have a rich taste and strong aroma favored by some consumers.

A small pile of loose ceylon tea.
A small pile of loose ceylon tea.

Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon under colonialism, and the name has stuck for the tea. Tea was first introduced to the country as a crop in 1867, to replace a devastated coffee crop. Tea producers quickly began to produce tea with a unique flavor and color, and Ceylon tea began to experience high demand. The majority of Ceylon tea is grown in the highlands of the country, with lower elevation teas being used as filler in tea blends.

As with other black teas, Ceylon tea is best when brewed using loose leaves.
As with other black teas, Ceylon tea is best when brewed using loose leaves.

Six regions of Ceylon produce tea: Galle, Ratnapura, Kandy, Dimulla, Uva, and Nuwara Eliya. Ceylon tea is often identified by the region is was grown in, and each area's tea tastes distinctly different, with the best harvests coming in February, March, August, and September. The tea leaves are carefully selected for optimal flavor and meticulously oxidized to make classic black tea. After oxidation, the tea is roasted and prepared for sale at packaging facilities.

Ceylon tea is grown in Sri Lanka.
Ceylon tea is grown in Sri Lanka.

Since Ceylon tea is associated with quality, the Sri Lanka Tea Board brands genuine Ceylon tea with a stamp of a lion carrying a sword. This lion logo is only used on teas grown and packed in Sri Lanka, and the teas are also tested for quality to ensure that they adequately represent the tea heritage of Sri Lanka. This marketing measure was undertaken to support a gourmet market for Ceylon tea, which tastes best when brewed in loose-leaf form. Since many consumers prefer teabags for convenience, the Tea Board wanted to increase the appeal of their product with a cohesive brand and a luxury feel.

A cup of Ceylon tea.
A cup of Ceylon tea.

Many grocery stores and importers stock Ceylon tea, usually as loose-leaf tea. It can also be ordered through specialty importers, or enjoyed in tea blends which combine several varieties of tea, including Ceylon tea. The tea classically brews strong, dark, and flavorful, with complex hints of orange and spice. Like other black teas, Ceylon tea contains caffeine.

The high levels of caffeine in ceylon tea may cause stomach upset in some people.
The high levels of caffeine in ceylon tea may cause stomach upset in some people.

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Discussion Comments


The best brand for ceylon tea is Alwazah Tea, but that tea also has many varieties and the best one is FBOP No1. Once I had that tea I didn't find other teas interesting anymore.


I blend my own English Breakfast using Kenyan, Darjeeling and Assam leaf to make a unique and satisfying cuppa.


I found ceylon tea (brand name Impra) at a Russian supermarket and yes, there is a lion stamp on the box.


Sri Lanka has launched ozone friendly Ceylon Tea. So now anyone can identify original Ceylon tea.


Peace Tea brand makes a really good ceylon tea.


I found this info on the Sri Lanka Tea Board site: "The brands which use the Lion Logo should be packed in Sri Lanka. Overseas Importers/packers are not allowed to use the Lion Logo on their tea packs even if the packs contain pure Ceylon Tea."

Thus, the packet of loose Ceylon tea that I bought from a shop in the USA could not bear the lion stamp.


The box that I bought at the store said "100% Ceylon Tea", but it does not have the lion symbol mentioned above. So it's really 100% IMITATION Ceylon Tea..the jerks. Actually maybe that's a good thing, since I really don't like it, there is no hint of orange and spices. In fact it kind of tastes like very strong Lipton tea lol!

Perhaps there is still hope of liking REAL Ceylon Tea then!

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