James Taylor

James Taylor is the pioneer of Ceylon Tea. Arriving in Ceylon in 1852 as a 17-year-old, he was billeted at Loolecondera Estate in Galaha, a coffee plantation in the Kandy District. With the onset of the coffee rust disease, Taylor visited India in 1866 to learn about growing tea. Upon his return, Taylor planted a 21-acre plot of tea on Loolecondera in 1867 – Field No 7.

It was fortuitous timing as the coffee plantations were all but decimated within a couple of years. Taylor’s initiative enabled a new industry to hastily replace an old one which had been brought to its knees. It breathed new life into the perilous situation that investors, owners and planters had found themselves in.

From an initial export of a mere 23 pounds, tea production on Loolecondera and the country expanded rapidly and by 1890, exports had risen to more than 20,000 tons. So too did the glowing reputation of Ceylon Tea, as the industry continued to expand heavily, moving into the 20th century.

Historical Events

1867– James Taylor becomes the First Tea Planter

1867– James Taylor becomes the First Tea Planter

James Taylor, the supervisor of Loolecondera Estate plants the tea seedlings at his estate. The seedlings were provided by the nursery of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and were planted in just 19 acres.

1870 - Sir Charles De Soysa adopts tea plantation

1870 - Sir Charles De Soysa adopts tea plantation

As prospects of coffee began to look dull local planter Charles De Soysa started converting his plantations to tea. With the Ceylon Coffee Crash Soysa expanded his tea estates to include Guru Oya, Marigold, Hapugasmulle among others

1880 - Henry Randolph Trafford arrives in Sri Lanka and purchases Poyston Estate

1880 - Henry Randolph Trafford arrives in Sri Lanka and purchases Poyston Estate

Englishman Henry Randolph Trafford purchased the Poyston Estate and started the growth of coffee and Cinchona, later switching to tea in 1887

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