The Sri Lanka tea industry, which has weathered many storms, now faces the threat of attempts being made by unscrupulous individuals to adulterate tea and make a
The warning call came from a former president of the Central Province Tea Factory Owners’ Society when he addressed an audience at a function held recently for members and their loved ones of the tea community.
Sri Lankan tea has a reputation for being among the best in the world and questionable practices such as the above can stain this industry.
What’s sad is that this malpractice is carried out by the middleman who has no involvement in the production line. The ex-official of the tea factory owners’ society also made a plea to the Government of Sri Lanka to intervene and help sort out the matter.
The culture of drinking tea was introduced to Sri Lanka by a Britisher in 1867. It was initially a drink for the aristocrats, but tea drinking soon caught up among the masses; among whom soon were the pluckers themselves.
The planting community maintained the quality of the tea they consumed. But most tea kiosks that serve the hot beverage offer whatever substandard tea that the middleman has tinkered with.
Up market coffee shops and cafes still offer a ‘cuppa’ which promises both the aroma and the refined taste. But only the affluent can afford the price of ‘good cup of tea’. What’s alarming is that those who consume low quality tea run the risk of suffering from ill effects of such products.
This should not be the case because tea, next to water, is the most preferred drink in the world.
"What’s sad is that this malpractice is carried out by the middleman who has no involvement in the production line. The ex-official of the tea factory owners’ society also made a plea to the Government of Sri Lanka to intervene and help sort out the matter"
And in other countries tea is considered one of the cheapest and most easily available beverages. What bothers tea lovers in this island is that the black dust that’s available is often below par; excluding a few reputed brands available in supermarkets and upmarket stores.
From a health perspective there are reasons to be concerned about the tea we drink. Instead of obtaining the health benefit of the antioxidants in a cup of tea we are forced to deal with the many colourings that are used to adulterate tea dust. However there are some middlemen who have the gumption to counter these claims. They say that the same colourings that are used in cake essence is used to give the color their desire to the tea dust they buy and sell.
All local and foreign tourist when travelling don’t have access to upmarket tea centres and cafes for a splendid cup of tea. Since tea drinking is interwoven in our culture it’s time the authorities regulate the tea industry.
As much as we talk about the cup of tea our mothers or partners prepare with much love we also need to mention the efforts of the tea pluckers who pluck ‘the two leaves and a bud’ with much effort and care. If not for them we’d not have our steaming cups of tea the first thing in the morning. The tussle to get a decent daily wage for the tea plucker is a struggle that’s being initiated by union workers on their behalf. Even now the maximum daily wage a tea plucker can obtain is Rs 750 despite much protests and agitations. Just for the record a manual labour obtains a daily wage between Rs 1000-1500 in comparison to the tea estate worker whose meagre 750 a day underscoring the fact that a solution for the tea estate workers’ crisis in nowhere in sight.
Positive stories from the hills flavour our tea, but when we see beyond the steam rising from our cups we fathom that there’s something often wrong with the ‘colours’ used to paint a rosy picture about ‘Ceylon Tea’.