The first meeting of the Ceylon Society of Australia (CSA) for 2022 was held on the 28th of February at the Pennant Hills Community Centre. The speaker was Roderick de Sylva who gave an interesting talk on the development of the tea industry in Sri Lanka. Roderick shared his expertise and drew on his considerable experience in the tea industry as Tea Taster, Tea Buyer, Tea Blender and Tea Marketer with Lipton Ceylon, where he commenced work in 1973 as a ‘Trainee Tea Executive’. He gave a short history of the tea industry in Ceylon starting with the clearing of the upcountry jungles by the British and then gave a detailed presentation on the aspects of tea cultivation and manufacturing and the process from ‘leaf to cup’ that involved picking, withering, rolling/crushing, fermentation, drying/firing, sorting and packing.
Roderick explained that the role of a Tea Taster is much like that of a Wine Taster as tea quality is impacted by ecological, climatic and manufacturing factors. The attendees were then treated to an array of tea samples brewed and displayed. Roderick also gave a demonstration of the tasting technique that involved sipping, gargling and spitting out the brew much to the delight of the attendees. A question-and-answer session followed where members of the audience raised various topics including tea estate administration, old estate bungalows, the Colombo tea auctions, the tea industry after independence and the working conditions of the women tea pluckers. Everyone was free to sniff the aroma of the different blends on display. It was a most fascinating evening. Thanks goes to Roderick for his presentation and the trouble he took bringing in the tea samples and displaying them so professionally. Thanks also to Pauline Gunewardene and the CSA Committee for organizing an enjoyable evening.
Adam Raffel – Editor of The Ceylankan