The history of Ceylon tea (Sri Lanka) dates back to the 19th century when the British established tea plantations in the country. Before this, coffee was the main cash crop in Sri Lanka. However, a fungus called Hemileia vastatrix, also known as coffee rust, wiped out most of the coffee crops, leaving many farmers without a livelihood.
In 1867, James Taylor, a Scottish planter, began experimenting with tea cultivation on a small scale, and by 1872, he had established a fully operational tea factory on the Loolecondera Estate. This was the first commercial tea plantation in Sri Lanka. The tea industry quickly grew, and by the early 1880s, tea had replaced coffee as the main cash crop in the country.
In 1894, the Ceylon Tea Traders Association was established, and the first shipment of Ceylon tea was exported to London. This marked the beginning of the export of Ceylon tea to the rest of the world.
Over the next few decades, the tea industry in Sri Lanka continued to grow, and by the 1930s, the country had become one of the largest tea producers in the world. The tea industry was also responsible for the large-scale employment of people in the country, particularly in rural areas.
The industry remains an important part of the country's economy, and it is committed to sustainability and ethical practices.