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Tea plant in Sri Lanka were first established in 1839 at the Botanical Garden in Peradeniya, and the first tea estate was planted in 1840.Tea's grown here at high altitude as well as mid and low altitude area. 


Sri Lanka Tea statistics

Share in total world export (1998): 21%

Share in world's total production (1998): 9.5% 

Production (1999): 258.4 million kgs. (+3.5% over 1998)

Area under tea (1998): 194000 hectare

Export of Instant tea (1996): 7,40,000 kgs

Export of Tea Bags (1999): 11249922 kgs

Export of Packet Tea (1999): 73216143 kgs 

TeaGrowing Areas

The island of Sri Lanka falls between 6¦ and 9¦ North Latitudes. The tea area occur mostly around 7¦ N latitudes in the mountainous country on the south western part of the island. Tea planted above an altitude of 1200 m is known as "High Grown" which constitutes about 40% of the total planted area while little less than 20% is put out in low country below 600 m elevation. 

Climate Condition

The mean temperature at Ratnapura in the low country is around 26¦ C at Nuwara Eliya 19¦ C, at Kandy (504 m) 24¦ C and at Badula (673 m) in the Uva district it  is 23¦ C.

Areas like Kandy, Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya receive copious rain from the south-west monsoon from may to September and some rain also from the north-east monsoon during the months of October to January.

Tea Taxes & Duties

  1. Export Duties: Nil
  2. Cesses
  1. Medical Aid (not payable on instant tea): 0.35 cents per kg
  2. Tea Board Cess: 250.00 cents per kg

Recent History

There was a steady growth till 1970 but thereafter  stagnation set in and the next decade witnessed a shortfall on anticipated crops. A combination of factors that caused this decline in production. The nationalization of plantation in Sri Lanka was the root cause of this. Between 1965 to 1977 the global production rose by 50% while Sri Lanka production fell by 9%. This trend was only arrested in 1980s. The total extent of tea land in Sri Lanka is around 240,000 hectares. According to the latest land survey, the high grown varieties now cover an extent of 51,500 hectares having lost 30% of the extent recorded in 1965 at 87000 hectares

The Mid grown area has sustained the biggest loss and only attribute 56,000 hectares today, having enjoyed a tea cover of 100,000 hectares in 1968. Expansion of low grown sector projects a different picture, and is acclaimed today the only sector that has recorded an uninterrupted growth rate, both in respect of the tea cover and production levels. Today Low Grown sector contributes more than 50% of Sri Lanka's total tea production. The national average yield per hectare which stood around 1045 hectare in 1993 has progressively increased to almost 1500 kilos per hectare today.

The yields from High Grown, Mid Grown and Low Grown are moving around 1450 kilos, 900 kilos and 1800 kilos per hectare respectively.

Public Vs Private Sector

The latest tea land survey conducted by Sri Lanka Tea Board reveals some significant facts about the changing composition of the Sri Lankan Tea Industry. 

According to these latest findings  total tea coverage is 188,867 hectares, of which 56% is under public management, and the balance 44% under the management of small holders.  In small holders sector, 82,916 hectares are cultivated by 206,652 tea growers as against 106,047 hectares in the public sector with 404 management units. The status of cultivation of both the sectors seems well balanced.