25 Days of Tea: Day 15 (Ceylon)

Ceylon OP1 with tea flowers

You’re in for a special treat as we hop over to Sri Lanka (a small tropical island off Southern India) to explore a black tea called Ceylon. It gets its name from its country of origin before it changed in 1948.

When I first started studying tea seriously in 2007, one of the first single estate black teas that I became smitten with was ceylon. I didn’t know at the time that I would travel to Sri Lanka and stay on a tea plantation and attend the famous tea auction. What a beautiful, rich country with a gorgeous export. A noteworthy distinction and something most people may not know is that ceylon tea is certified ozone friendly. Here is an excerpt from the Sri Lankan Tea Board to properly explain what that means:

“All tea grown in Sri Lanka is now one hundred percent ozone-friendly. This is a distinction of which no other tea-producing nation can boast. Plans are now being drawn up to impose a total ban on methyl bromide use in applications like export packaging and shipping. As of May 2011, all Ceylon Tea is entitled to bear the new ‘Ozone Friendly Pure Ceylon Tea’ logo, certifying that it has been produced without the use of any ozone-depleting substances. The Tea Board plans to register the logo in thirty tea-importing countries by the end of 2012. When you reach for a cup of Ceylon Tea, you’re not just refreshing yourself; you’re also helping refresh and renew an environmental resource critically important to all life on Earth.”

You can read even more about this on the Sri Lanka Tea Board Website. A few months back, I was invited to dinner at the residence of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka where I sat next to a colleague who owns of a very small organic tea estate in Ella. We had run into each other a several times over the years, but this particular meeting proved fateful because we were able to really discuss the teas his estate is producing. A few samples later and we now carry this very unusual, very special OP1 Ceylon Black Tea with addition of dried tea flowers (camellia sinensis). It was a bit of a wait (months actually) but the end result was worth it. When the few precious kilos arrived, I squealed with delight.

When you see letters after a black tea (like OP), its referring to the grade of tea. OP stands for Orange Pekoe (pronounced PECK-O) referring to the highest grade of leaves. OP1 means it’s a slightly delicate, long, wiry leaf with the light colored liquor. Here are some notes on this island gem:

• Overview:   A special, medium bodied black tea that’s also a visual delight.
• Dry Leaf:    Long, delicate, wiry leaves with gorgeous pale yellow dried flowers.
• Liquor (liquid):   Medium golden brown
• Aroma:   Fresh rain, honeysuckle
• Flavor notes:    Strong notes of honey and light notes of citrus fruit on the finish. Crisp and bright. A longer steep yields a healthy substantial brew.
• Brewing recommendation:     212° Fº – steep for 2-4 minutes
• Caffeine: Yes


25 Days of Tea: Day 15 (Ceylon)