The forefather of Ceylon Tea
16 year old James Taylor arrived in Sri Lanka and started work as an assistant supervisor on a coffee plantation in 1851. Five years later his employers, Harrison and Leake, put Taylor in charge of the Loolecondera plantation and instructed him to experiment with tea. With tea seeds supplied first by the Peradeniya nursery around 1860, he set about making history.
Taylor soon set up his first tea factory on the island. In 1872, he invented a machine for rolling leaves and, a year later, sent 23 pounds of tea back to England, which was fast becoming the tea centre of the world. With more areas coming under tea cultivation Ceylon Tea was increasingly shipped to London. In 1883, with increased production, an auction dedicated to tea commenced in Colombo.
The Planters Association, founded in 1894, led an aggressive campaign to get the word ‘tea’ associated with Ceylon. They inaugurated a publicity campaign, sending Kaiser Wilhelm II, Tsar Alexander III, Grand-Duke Nicolas, the Queen of Italy and Emperor Franz Joseph 60 coffers of tea accompanied by an Illustrated Album on Ceylon.