Tea Master Profile: Amba Estate - Sri Lanka
Amba Estate is a tea garden focused on supporting the local community, through economic and environmental programs. Workers at the Estate learn full circle the tea making process, from harvesting the leaves to crafting the tea to be ready for consumption. The Estate allocates 10% of the revenue as additions to the workers' wages as well as supporting workers' benefit programs. Amba Estate adheres to strict all-natural growing methods to maintain the tea fields. By recycling green plant material from the gardens and using manure from their own herd of rescue cows the Estate is able to preserve the local environment and enhance soil fertility.
In 1796 the tea plant was discovered to grow on the island of Ceylon (current day Sri Lanka). The British took control of the island to cultivate coffee, during this time tea seeds from Assam were planted in the city of Kandy. A coffee rust fungus, Hemileia Vastatrix, destroyed the coffee plants on the island in 1869, effectively causing the end of the coffee industry in the area. In 1872 a Scottish man named James Taylor experienced big success with tea produced and manufactured in Kandy and sold at auction in London. Thomas Lipton began growing tea to sell direct in his chain of British grocery stores, further enhancing the appeal of Ceylon tea. Once Ceylon achieved independence, the tea industry experienced a decline due to the threat of nationalization. Private companies focused on other interests, or sold out completely from the area. Recently, the government has given more management power to private companies and introduced the famous lion logo to differentiate Ceylon tea and identify it's reputation for quality.