Green and lushly fertile, the island republic of Sri Lanka lies in the Bay of Bengal, just below the southeastern tip of India. Sri Lanka was formerly a British crown colony known as Ceylon, a name it kept for nearly a quarter-century after independence.
It was during the British era that tea first began to be cultivated and manufactured here. Tea from Ceylon soon gained the reputation of being the finest in the world, and tea exports became the mainstay of the colonial economy. Housewives and restaurateurs across the globe grew familiar with the name of the country, learning that its appearance on a tin or packet reliably guaranteed the quality of the tea inside. Independence brought new markets, and production continued to increase. In 1965 Ceylon became, for the first time, the world’s largest exporter of tea.
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