I'm currently on a sourcing trip in Sri Lanka looking for new Ceylon teas for us to stock.
I've been tasting the freshest crops from many low, medium and high grown estates trying to find the perfect blend for our Earl Grey Black Tea base. I've also seen some of the packing factories we use to ensure that the tea we select is packed perfectly to remain fresh for as long as possible.
Ceylon teas vary in flavour with the height at which they are grown. The low grown teas (the estate factory is located less than 2000ft) are the richest and most full in flavour with the darkest liquor. Medium grown teas (the estate factory is located between 2000 and 4000 ft) have a lighter liquor but with a balance of strength and more complex higher notes. High grown (the estate factory is located at more than 4000ft) have the lightest liquor and flavour, and are often less oxidised.Sri Lankans call high grown tea the champagne of teas due to its light, sparklingly bright flavours - not to be confused with Darjeeling, which Indians also refer to as the champagne of teas!
Our Earl Grey is a blend of fantastic low grown teas for rich strength coupled with zesty and complex medium grown teas to balance and compliment the sparkling citrus flavours of the bergamot with which it is flavoured.
Ceylon teas are very popular in the Middle East, Russia, and are developing popularity in Australia. Compared to these, the UK hardly imports any Ceylon tea even though it was the basis of many of the most famous British tea company's blends. It's a shame really, because Ceylon teas are rich, smooth and rewarding.