Why you should have tea from Sri Lanka at your F&B outlet?
Premala Srikantha, minister (tea promotion - Middle East and North African region), Sri Lanka Consulate General in Dubai, on what to expect from the country’s tea at Gulfood.
Can you tell us a bit about Ceylon Tea?
Sri Lanka - a tea island, is known for its diverse cultures and scenic beauty. While blessed with fortunes of nature to give a different array of climates, tea was first introduced to Sri Lanka as a replacement crop for coffee, during the 19th century by a Scottish planter, James Taylor.
Sri Lanka is the largest exporter of black orthodox tea in the world. It has a share of 15% in global tea exports. What makes Ceylon tea unique is its taste, quality and the unmatched conditions under which it is grown. From the southern foothills to the central highlands, tea thrives at elevations ranging from 2000 to 6000 feet above sea level. Ceylon tea is grown in pristine environments in a salubrious climate. This is why it is the cleanest tea in the world, grown according to stringent environmental practices and conforming to international conventions and agreements.
Why did you want to be involved with the Gulfood 2020?
The Sri Lanka Tea Board as the apex government body, oversees the development and regulation of the tea industry in Sri Lanka and promotes Sri Lanka tea (Ceylon tea) globally. As the custodian of pure Ceylon tea from leaf to cup, Sri Lanka Tea Board performs a wide variety of functions, such as offering advice and assistance to overseas buyers and tea brand owners, tea exporters, traders, manufacturers, and cultivators.
Ceylon tea reaches approximately 150 countries today. Middle Eastern countries and the Gulf region absorbs around 53% of tea exported from Sri Lanka.
Therefore, this region is Sri Lanka’s most important market. Gulfood is the largest food and beverage trade exhibition in the region, and Sri Lanka Tea Board has been partnering with the Gulfood trade exhibition almost from its inception. This year too, Sri Lanka Tea Board has organized a national pavilion for Ceylon tea together with 18 leading private sector exporters promoting their range of Ceylon tea brands.
What can guests at the show expect from your Ceylon tea stand?
Sri Lanka Tea Board conducts generic promotion of Ceylon tea in our booth, where the guests will have a variety of Ceylon specialty regional teas to taste. It creates the opportunity for trade visitors to distinguish the differences in flavour, strength, colour and aroma of the different agro-climatic regional teas of Sri Lanka. An information desk providing information on product and other relevant information on the Sri Lankan tea industry is maintained at the stall.
The private sector tea exporting companies will display a wide range of Ceylon tea products such as loose tea, tea bags – single, double, envelope, pyramid tea bags in various type of packets, such as - box board cartons, foil packs, soft wooden boxes, metal cans, ceramic jars, wooden boxes etc. They will also display new innovative Ceylon tea products, such as - instant tea, tea cordial, tea extracts, tea aroma etc. Since all the booths will be manned by tea experts, the potential buyers can obtain first-hand information and can establish business contacts.
Why would the F&B industry in the region want to work with you?
Over the years, Sri Lanka has earned a reputation as a producer of high-quality teas, synonymous with quality and taste. Tea is a very popular hot beverage in the Middle East region. There is a tradition of having morning tea and serving tea to guests is associated with traditional Arab hospitality. Ceylon black tea has been their most preferred origin of tea. Sri Lanka offers to the tea connoisseurs of the world, teas of different characteristics to suit their needs. A wide range of innovative variation in Ceylon tea - such as, a range of flavoured teas, ready to drink tea, iced tea etc. are becoming popular in the region.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Sri Lanka’s diverse climate contributes in producing diverse varieties of teas. Seven agro-climatic regions produce teas that are unique to each region, making Sri Lanka a tea connoisseur’s paradise. The diversity in Sri Lanka’s orthodox teas has been the power and strength of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Dimbula, Uda Pussellawa, Kandy, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa are the island’s prime tea growing regions with diverse climates. This has resulted in an assortment of the finest teas with different flavour, aroma, strength and colour, indigenous to each agro-climatic district that is not found anywhere else in the world.
Ceylon tea has been recognized by the International Standards Organization as the cleanest tea in the world in terms of pesticide residues and Sri Lanka is the first and only producer country to be recognized with ‘ozone friendly’ status by the Montreal Protocol. Currently many Sri Lankan tea manufacturers and exporters have obtained ISO, HACCP and other international certifications and are thus ahead of the other tea producing countries. Fair Trade, Ethical Tea Partnership and Good Manufacturing Practices are among the other quality systems followed by the Sri Lanka tea trade. The commitment of all stakeholders in the industry has helped Sri Lanka to sustain its leadership in the world orthodox tea market and also in the value-added tea export sector.