The first authenticated batch of tea seeds to reach Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was planted at the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya in December 1839.
However, the first commercial planting of tea in Sri Lanka was undertaken by James Taylor only in 1867, on 19 acres of land on Loolecondera estate, Hewaheta. This was carried out with the idea of testing tea as a possible alternate crop for coffee, which was facing an economic slump at that time. Taylor had acquired some basic knowledge of tea cultivation in North India and made some initial experiments in manufacture, using his bungalow veranda as the factory.
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.
Today the tea drinking habit has spread all over the world. It is second only to water as the most favourite beverage on earth.