Inspiration and education in tea

There is a special reason why Ceylon Tea came to be known as the best tea; in our little island of around 25,000 square miles, nature has blessed us with mountains over 6,000 feet high with a cool and moist climate, to lowlands with hot sunshine and only occasional rainfall. And then there is everything in between. When combined with that wonderful attribute of terroir, or ‘sense of place’ that nature bestowed on tea, the result is a potent and deliciously different array of tastes, aromas and textures in tea.

My father sought to share this wonderful diversity with the tea aficionados around the world who shared his love for tea. The result was Watte. Meaning garden, in our language, Watte is a journey in tea. It starts with the Single Region Teas, Ran Watte (meaning Golden Garden), through Uda (high), Meda (Mid) and Yata (lower) and it continues through the Watte Single Estate Teas with four perfectly made teas from Lover’s Leap, Somerset, Doombagastalawa and Nilagama Estates.

A journey through the land of tea

The four teas in their regional and estate variations present in their appearance, liquor, aroma and finally taste and structure – a compelling insight

into tea. The Ran Watte, with its light, slightly raw personality through to the erathy, robustness of Yata Watte. Learning about tea in this way, and sampling the variety that nature offers in tea will hopefully help tea drinkers understand why we are so passionate about tea. To learn more about Watte, please visit Watte online.

2 Comments Inspiration and education in tea

  1. Bruce September 27, 2008 at 11:51 am

    An intriguing note about how world market demand, and thus market prices, on each of the four Ceylon elevations and gardens Dilmah uses to represent those elevations, has shifted from 1968 to 2008.

    In 1968 when I began buying tea from MJF, Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva teas circa1968 were on the top price-wise. Kandy teas circa1968 were on the bottom and Lowgrown teas circa1968 were right in the middle price-wise.

    New plantings (net of old plantings abandoned) in these forty years have reflected changing market preferences, but with a huge lag factor. It takes a half decade for a new tea estate to be planted and providing a regular, stabilized output of 400MT and up / pa.

    And to bring that new estate to its fullest quality potential takes a world-class teamaker, intensively working the estate and its factory’s capabilities for another few years.

    What tells the tale at the end of the day is what a given tea estate / factory yields in its annualized revenue per kilo of made tea. This statistic, when taken in composite for Ceylon’s four tea elevation zones, is the most sensitive, annual indicator of changing world market preferences for Ceylon
    teas by elevation.

    And, man, the stats by elevation have surely changed in these forty years. Ironically, they’ve changed *back to norm* during the period – meaning, back to where they’d averaged during Ceylon’s century worth of tea exporting history pre-1968.

    What does this prove? Buy Dilmah’s four packs by elevation, four packs by estate and you tell us. The key to the exercise is to try best as possible to think like a tea estate manager (say, Dilmah’s Doombagastalawa) and tea brand marketing manager (say, our friend Dilhan Fernando).

    It’s harder than you might think to optimize quality at the factory up-country when you must first define quality at the global marketing manager’s offices in Colombo.

    Is this the eternal push and pull between *manufacturing* and *marketing*, as in the Sri Lankan apparel trade?

    I think not.

    What’s so great about Dilmah’s overall business organization (known to us in the trade as the MJF Group of Companies) is that everything is within one Sri Lankan fully integrated business organization built on one man’s principles and carried on by his two sons.

    More tea business organizations at origins should take the clue.

    Yet, in the twenty year history of the Dilmah brand, it’s remarkable no business organization in Asia nor Africa has attempted to mirror the MJF Group’s winning model.

    Logic dictates new entrants will mirror the Group’s model in time.

    So, check back to this string in 2028 AD and we’ll know the names of newcomers who’ve done it right from plant in (Nawalapitiya) to consumer in (New York)!

  2. Ania July 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    An intriguing note about how world makert demand, and thus makert prices, on each of the four Ceylon elevations and gardens Dilmah uses to represent those elevations, has shifted from 1968 to 2008. In 1968 when I began buying tea from MJF, Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva teas circa1968 were on the top price-wise. Kandy teas circa1968 were on the bottom and Lowgrown teas circa1968 were right in the middle price-wise. New plantings (net of old plantings abandoned) in these forty years have reflected changing makert preferences, but with a huge lag factor. It takes a half decade for a new tea estate to be planted and providing a regular, stabilized output of 400MT and up / pa. And to bring that new estate to its fullest quality potential takes a world-class teamaker, intensively working the estate and its factory’s capabilities for another few years. What tells the tale at the end of the day is what a given tea estate / factory yields in its annualized revenue per kilo of made tea. This statistic, when taken in composite for Ceylon’s four tea elevation zones, is the most sensitive, annual indicator of changing world makert preferences for Ceylonteas by elevation. And, man, the stats by elevation have surely changed in these forty years. Ironically, they’ve changed *back to norm* during the period meaning, back to where they’d averaged during Ceylon’s century worth of tea exporting history pre-1968. What does this prove? Buy Dilmah’s four packs by elevation, four packs by estate and you tell us. The key to the exercise is to try best as possible to think like a tea estate manager (say, Dilmah’s Doombagastalawa) and tea brand makerting manager (say, our friend Dilhan Fernando). It’s harder than you might think to optimize quality at the factory up-country when you must first define quality at the global makerting manager’s offices in Colombo. Is this the eternal push and pull between *manufacturing* and *marketing*, as in the Sri Lankan apparel trade? I think not.What’s so great about Dilmah’s overall business organization (known to us in the trade as the MJF Group of Companies) is that everything is within one Sri Lankan fully integrated business organization built on one man’s principles and carried on by his two sons. More tea business organizations at origins should take the clue. Yet, in the twenty year history of the Dilmah brand, it’s remarkable no business organization in Asia nor Africa has attempted to mirror the MJF Group’s winning model. Logic dictates new entrants will mirror the Group’s model in time. So, check back to this string in 2028 AD and we’ll know the names of newcomers who’ve done it right from plant in (Nawalapitiya) to consumer in (New York)!

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