We are a family of tea experts, with a deep heritage in this beautiful industry for over a 100 years. We are vertically integrated, family owned, tea company with a heritage going back to the late 1800’ when tea was first introduced to Ceylon by James Taylor. Our great-grandfather declared his commitment to this industry by purchasing the first tea plantations during this time in Kandy, the city where the first ever tea plantation in the country was created. Our Tea Factory, also located in Kandy, was one a few tea processing facilities in the country when our family purchased it from the British in the year 1931.
Until the 1860’s the main crop produced on the island of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was coffee. But in 1869, the coffee-rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, killed the majority of the coffee plants and estate owners had to diversify into other crops in order to avoid total ruin. The owners of Loolecondera Estate in Kandy had been interested in tea since the late 1850’s and in 1866, James Taylor, a recently arrived Scot, was selected to be in charge of the first sowing of tea seeds in 1867, on 19 acres of land.
Taylor had acquired some basic knowledge of tea cultivation in North India and made some initial experiments in manufacture, using his bungalow verandah as the factory and rolling the leaf by hand on tables. Firing of the oxidized leaf was carried out on clay stoves over charcoal fires with the leaf on wire trays. His first teas were sold locally and were declared delicious. By 1872, Taylor had a fully equipped factory, and, in 1873, his first quality teas were sold for a very good price at the London auction. Through his dedication and determination, Taylor was largely responsible for the early success of the tea crop in Ceylon. Between 1873 and 1880, production rose from just 23 pounds to 81.3 tons, and by 1890, to 22,899.8 tons.
Until 1971, more than 80 percent of the island’s tea estates were owned and managed by British companies. AZ Tea is unique in that our records date back to the late 1800’s, right from the inception of this multi billion industry. We are true pioneers of the Ceylon Tea Industry, and today, our ethics are deeply rooted on growing, processing and exporting only the world’s finest teas to tea connoisseurs around the globe.