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Archive for the ‘~Ceylon Coffee’ Category

Coffee to Tea in Ceylon

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

The Turn of the Screw: from Ceylon Coffee to Ceylon Tea in Sri Lanka
Prior to the beginning of plantation of Ceylon Tea in Sri Lanka, coffee grew wild in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese Buddhist traditions that run into medieval era enlighten us of a time coffee flowers being offered at the Holy Temple of the Tooth at Kandy. But it was not until 1823 coffee plantations took root in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon. During the Napoleonic Wars in Europe (1799-1815), when Holland was occupied by France, the Dutch East India Company [whose VOC Dutch Galle Fort at Sri Lanka Holidays Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the best preserved colonial Dutch fort in Asia today], lost much of the Indonesian coffee-producing area to the British East India Company (1811-1816). The Dutch reclaimed Indonesian archipelago from the British in 1815, following the inevitable downfall of Napoleon. No “third Reich”, no “Grande Armee” would withstand Russian winter; no Napoleon, no Hitler would conquer great Russia.

In 1823 British colonial Governor of Ceylon, Sir Edward Barnes (1776-1838) & his friend George bird, a former cavalry officer, formed the first European coffee plantation in Sri Lanka Holidays Kandy, the gateway to the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. In the same year the colonial governor established a government plantation of 200 acres near the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens at Kandy. The quality of Ceylon Coffee was such the governor believed in a brilliant future for coffee in Sri Lanka Holidays Central Highlands. The Story of Ceylon Tea was yet to begin and unravel.

Ceylon Coffee Production during the British Colonial Era in Sri Lanka

Ceylon Coffee Production during the British Colonial Era in Sri Lanka: sifting coffee beans

The British Child Soldier
In 1825, the British colonialists in Ceylon began cultivation of coffee in large scale in the Central Highlands. Governor Barnes invested in a network of roads in Ceylon. At the forefront of the road building work was one Thomas Skinner (1804-1877), who enlisted in the Ceylon Rifles in 1818 at the tender age of fourteen. Thomas Skinner made roads and history in Ceylon. Such was his contribution, he was attributed to had his hand & heart in the construction of nearly every road & bridge in the tropical island of Ceylon. He gave British Ceylon 3000 miles of good macadamized roads. The remarkable growth of coffee plantations in Ceylon was more or less a result of the road building work of Major Skinner.

Sir Emerson Tennet (1804-1869), colonial secretary of Ceylon (1845-1850) was on the bull’s eye when he stated “to him more than to any living man the colony is indebted for its present prosperity”. One would wonder whether Emerson could have done still better to do justice to Skinner, had Emerson lived to witness the success of Ceylon Tea plantations.

Ceylon Tea Plantations, Central Highlands. Sri Lanka

Ceylon Tea Plantations, Central Highlands. Sri Lanka

Ceylon Land Rush Vs. California Gold Rush
The investment in the network of roads in British Ceylon caused a Land Rush, commencing in 1836, for a decade, in the Sri Lanka Holidays Central Highlands in the vein of the Gold Rush in California (1848-1855). Coffee was the latest craze that torched Ceylon ablaze. Fired up by the coffee craze, enterprising individuals across a wide spectrum of the populace took lock, stock & barrel (literally in view of the herds on elephants then populated the Central Highlands). Among those who swarmed to the Central Highlands were Ceylonese civil servants, soldiers, judges & clergymen with one ambition in common: to become planters. At the forefront was legendary Sinhalese Coffee planter, “Rothschild of CeylonCharles Henry De Soysa (1836-1890) of Moratuwa [of South-Western Coastal Belt of Sri Lanka Holidays].

And the authorities were only too ready to sell crown lands of British Ceylon and did so at the pace of about 40,000 acres per annum. With the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies in 1833 resulting in a decline of coffee production therein, coffee export from Ceylon was in ascendance, filling the gap in the world market. The success of Ceylon Coffee plantations was such it successfully transformed Ceylon’s economy from reliance upon subsistence crops to plantation agriculture. Coffee industry became a money spinner of Ceylon in the lines as tobacco, cotton, or sugar was in America albeit on a different scale of production. By the mid 1800s Ceylon was the world’s leading coffee producer. In 1869, coffee covered over 90,000 acres of Sri Lanka Holidays Central Highlands and had created a vibrant export trade. But then the wheel of fortunes was to turn & turn with merciless wrath.

Irish Potato Blight Vs Ceylonese Coffee Blight
In 1869, nature turned its wrath upon the coffee plantations of Ceylon through a leaf blight called Haemileia vastatrix, for which no control could be found as was the case in Irish Potato Bight during 1740-1741, a watershed in the history of Ireland which sparked Irish emigration to the New World. Alas, once vibrant Ceylon Coffee plantations of Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon was to become a footnote in the history.
The Los Angeles Time, June 30, 1899: The coffee of Yemen (Mocha) is esteemed the best in the world, but little Mocha coffee gets out of Arabia, or at least beyond Turkey and Armenia. Ceylon once had an excellent reputation for its coffee, but so many natural obstacles arose to impede coffee cultivation in Ceylon that Ceylonese coffee plantations have been largely converted into tea plantations…

Andrew Carnegie sees a brilliant future for Black Tea in Ceylon
In 1879, a decade after the coffee blight, American industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) wrote “there are more than twelve hundred coffee plantations, and the amount of coffee exported exceeds twenty millions of dollars per annum. Tea cultivation has been introduced recently, and the quality is said to be excellent. There cannot be any doubt of this, because it finds a ready market here. None has been exported. If it were not a remarkably good article the foreign would be preferred, as we all know a domestic article has a world of prejudice to overcome at first. I shall watch Ceylon Tea leaf may rival that of the coffee bean.”
On the ashes of once great Ceylon Coffee industry, was built the now world renowned Ceylon Tea industry of Sri Lanka.
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Ceylon Coffee to Ceylon Tea

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Ceylon Tea, Ceylon Coffee & United Biology

Black Tea has been the most consumed & healthiest of the premier beverages including Black Coffee. All right stuff come with a cost & Black Tea hasn’t been an exception. Popularity of Black Tea in British Empire had the Chinese hooked onto narcotic opium till Black Tea from India & Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) took over the European market from China. Though China had its opium addiction reversed, in the case of Sri Lanka, the ancient Sinhalese irrigation network in the north central province was long neglected in view of the Black Tea cultivation in the Central Highlands of  Sri Lanka.

Ceylon Tea Plantation, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka

Ceylon Tea Plantation, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka

Ancient Sinhalese of Sri Lanka, from the very beginning of their civilization had practiced sustainable agriculture with a view of United Biology: the deep human need to be surrounded by other living things. The world’s oldest protected & recorded tree is in Anuradhapura; the world’s first ever wildlife reserve is Sri Lanka Holidays Mihintale; the world’s first recorded Veterinary hospital was established in Sri Lanka Holidays Anuradhapura during the reign of King Buddhadasa (340-368 AD) of Sri Lanka, who himself was an illustrious Ayurvedic physician & Veterinary  surgeon.
Ancient Sinhalese record of live and let live principle towards all living beings has been unparalleled throughout the 2552 years of unbroken recorded history as chronicled in Mahawamsa. Such was the Sinhalese history & tradition shattered by the British colonialists [1805 - 1948] in Ceylon.

CeylonTea & indentured labor from South India by the British colonialists in Ceylon
Moreover, tea being an all year crop, the indentured South Indian labor brought into Ceylon for the purpose of cultivation was to create untold disturbances in the ancient island of the Aryan Sinhalese, albeit short of the devastating scale wreaked upon the island nation by Malabars brought into Jaffna peninsula for the cultivation of Tobacco by the Dutch (1685-1798). The induction of Dravidian coolies into Sri Lanka of Aryan Sinhalese by the Dutch firstly, the British secondly, were to disturb the demography & social fabric of the ancient island to unfathomable depth. Europeans enjoyed Ceylon tobacco & Ceylon Tea, the finest Black Tea in the world. The little island nation paid a heavy price.

Ceylon Coffee
it was with coffee that the high yield plantation industry of Sri Lanka (forced change-over from subsistence crops to commercial crops) began in the year 1825. By 1867, acreage under coffee rose to 162,700. The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka being ideal for coffee growing, at the peak of coffee industry, the highest annual production exceeded 50 million kg of highest quality Ceylon coffee.

No shade, no protection; failed mono culture
The British having set up plantations of mono culture coffee without shade, the conditions resulted in the emergence of a devastating leaf disease known as the “coffee rust” Hemileia vastatrix, in the year 1869. During the next twenty years, in spite of a frantic effort to arrest the spread of disease, the coffee industry in Sri Lanka then called Ceylon declined. The lion-hearted planters of Ceylon (to give the devils their due) wouldn’t be denied of their due success story yet to be unraveled by a single calamitous misfortune. In an attempt to avoid financial ruin, the Ceylonese planters (mainly British) converted their decimated acreage of Ceylon Coffee to CeylonTea: millions of infected bushes were uprooted & set fire with untold heartache. With awe-inspiring courage, tea was planted in every inch of what were once hills of Ceylon coffee. Tea took root and flourished in the Sri Lanka Holidays Central Highlands: Ceylon tea. Since then Sri Lanka has been the producer of finest Black Tea in the world: Ceylon Tea. Ceylon Coffee production of Sri Lanka, today is a low-key industry geared solely for the local consumption in Sri Lanka.

Snowballing Folly of US AID & World Bank
In traditional wisdom, Coffee is grown in the shade under protection of forest canopy. In the 1950s USAID & World Bank launched a project in under-developed countries to promote so called sun-grown coffee. In order to secure bank credit, the planters were required to cut down the trees & switch over from their traditional shade grown coffee to modern sun grown coffee. It was to turn into a major folly: coffee is the most chemical intensive crop consumed by the humans.
The shade trees were cut down depriving the birds their habitat. Loss of bird population caused the spread of worms: infestation of worms called for pesticides. Then again the plants stressed by the exposure to direst sun and sprays of pesticide, in turn required chemical fertilizers. Moreover direst sun resulting in increased weed growth necessitated the use of weed killers. At last, but not least, with coffee berries getting ripened quicker in the direst sun, the quality of coffee was called into question.
Then again the farmers without the know-how of using chemicals safely were exposed to vapors & fumes resulting in health complication; groundwater began to be contaminated; the pulp of the coffee berries, which constitutes about 60% by weight, thrown into the rivers deduced the PH wreaking havoc in the marine life of the rivers that originate in the Sri Lanka Holidays Central Highlands and runs in the radial pattern to the surrounding plains.

Ceylon Coffee in poly culture
In Poly Culture, farmers provide shade for the coffee plantation with particular tree and plant species, including fruits and vegetable for the farmer as well as for the market. At present, it is estimated that there are over 3000 farmers of shade-grown Ceylon Coffee in Sri Lanka. Spurning pesticides & chemical fertilizers, Lawrence Goldberg of Sri Lanka’s Hansa Coffee has been engaged in the industry of Ceylon Coffee to regain the reputation for quality won and lost nearly a century and a half ago. The concept herein is termed Analog Forest Garden.

Quote Hansa Coffee of  Sri Lanka
An Analog Forest Garden is a tree dominated environment established on the principals of Analog Forestry, where crop plants are grown so that they form a physical structure to the original forest. The planting exhibits ecological relations that are also analogous to those of the original forest and provides micro-habitat to many species that could not exist without it. Unquote

Live and let live: co exists with other living beings; go with the concept of United Biology. That is to go with the god.
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