Since I’ve already had a week devoted to Darjeeling (India) this year, and the overwhelming number of my blogs center on Chinese tea (the two biggest producers), I’ve been wanting to do a Ceylon Week for a while now. Unlike those areas, many Sri Lankan teas don’t follow the standard “Spring 1st flush, Summer 2nd flush” pattern. Sri Lanka is an extremely wind-swept island in the tropics, just 300 or so miles North of the Equator. It often gets four seasons: two wet seasons and two dry seasons. Tea is harvested nearly all year round there, and the many mountains and various garden altitudes (more than a few above that magic 6,000 ft “high grown” marker) create the opportunity for vastly divergent styles. The majority of Ceylon is Black, but many farmers also produce Whites and Greens, often graded and/or plucked using the Chinese methodology and nomenclature. Sadly, however, most Ceylon has always been and continues to be CTC for use in blends. Some of the larger, more international and fair traded gardens tend to focus on orthodox full leaf, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
To briefly summarize Sri Lankan tea beginnings: James Taylor, who’d visited some Indian tea operations, started the first Sri Lankan tea garden on 19 acres of land in Loolecondera, Kandy in 1867. His factory was founded 1890 and in that year Sir Thomas Lipton visited and began distributing what would become Ceylon tea to Europe and the New World. Tragically, Taylor is also responsible for bringing Tamil workers back with him from India to operate his tea gardens… which would eventually lead to something you may have heard of if you pay attention to world news: The Sri Lankan Civil War, one of the most horrid and inhuman conflicts of our time. But hey, all’s fair in Tea and Colonialism, am i right? … >.>
I have tried my best to get a spread of teas from Sri Lanka’s six growing regions (Kandy, Dimbula, Matara, Nuwara Eliya, Ratnapura and Uva) for this week without a lot of successful. In the West, much of what we’re able to get our hands on tends to be either Uva or Nuwara Eliya. Additionally, not all tea vendors necessarily offer a Ceylon beyond a simple CTC blend, so I won’t be able to feature all of my favorite vendors this week. Instead I’ll do my best to try and focus on those ones in some way next week.
Located in the Sri Lanka’s Southern most tea producing region, Matara, Lumbini Estate is a family owned garden est. in 1984. Since then, Lumbini Estate has been awarded many times for outstanding tea and industry work (including sustainable farming practices). I’ve run across their teas distributed from a couple of different vendors here in the States, but apparently their main distribution channel is actually through an office in Berwick, Victoria, Australia… *watches all your eyes glaze over*
Rum raisin! That’s the aroma i first get off the liquor of TeaSource’s Ceylon Lumbini Estate FBOP (sorry, that intro was getting a little boring). Perhaps a touch of apricot or stonefruit combines with rum raisin to form a very enticing aroma. In coloration, Ceylon Lumbini Estate shows itself to be a beautiful dark rust/copper with green-orange sheen along the meniscus. Before even taking a sip, Ceylon Lumbini Estate is a very welcoming Black.
Flavorwise, the rum raisin is still somewhat present, but this very Black Ceylon FBOP donates a goodly amount of bitter dry tannin(li) to the mixture. In texture, the BOP lower refinement handicap is nevertheless overcome by the fruity pittiness.
- Aroma – 94
- Taste – 93
- Texture – 92
- Spunk – 95
- Price – 91
- Availability – 94
- Appearance – 93
Mean score – 93%
I’ve probably had more exciting Ceylon Blacks, but Lumbini Estate FBOP is far from disappointing or unenjoyable.