Monday, January 17, 2011

A gift of fresh tea from Sri Lanka

 Oh boy.  A friend brought me back two boxes of tea from his recent trip to Sri Lanka.  They visited the Mackwood Tea Estate and the tea is from there.  A box of Ceylon Orange Pekoe (whole leaf) and a box of Ceylon Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings.  Fannings, I said to myself?  Well, okay, thanks.

The Orange Pekoe looks beautiful -- large-ish medium twist leaves of an even size which brew up a beautiful cup of bright red-brown tea.  Full of flavour -- it's fresh after all.  And it has a lovely astringency.  A classic high-grown ceylon.

But the big news was the kapow flavour of the Fannings.  Now, we know fannings can deliver alot of flavour quickly because there are more exposed insides of the leaf but who knew that when you combine that with really fresh tea how big and wonderful the flavour could be?  I take back any derogatory thoughts I ever had about fannings. This has been my breakfast tea everyday since I opened it.

Now that I've blurted about the tea, here's the scoop on Mackwoods: one of the oldest tea companies in Sri Lanka it was established in 1841, initially as a coffee plantation.  I've noticed that most of the Sri Lankan tea companies are involved in many industry sectors and rarely just tea.  This is true of Mackwoods too and its website explains that "today, Mackwoods is a Conglomerate of several companies engaged in essential sectors of the Sri Lankan economy; namely – Agribusiness and Plantations (Tea, Rubber and Oil Palm), Healthcare (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment); Science & Technology; Information Technology Education, and Software Development; Imports and Value Added Exports; Energy Sector; Leisure Sector; Manufacturing Sector; and Financial Services (Insurance, Asset Management & Stockbroking). Mackwoods provides employment to approximately 8,500 individuals, and owns & manages 27,000 acres."

But back to the tea -- it comes from their Labookellie Estate which is in the Nuwara Eliya region.  Nuwara Eliya is the highest tea region in the country at about 6000 feet and tea from that region is considered the best and, I've been told, is rarely blended.  One of these days I'll go and see for myself.

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