Posts Tagged ‘Ceylon’


Sir Thomas Lipton is behind all that fuzz, which today surrounds tea that comes from Sri Lanka, and there’s an interesting story behind it.

A photo of Sir Thomas Lipton. It is difficult to see the man from behind that bush of a mustache, but unfortunately it is part of the style of Mr. Lipton. Must have been a fashionable style back then.


Mr. Lipton was a successful retailer and you can read more about the person at Wikipedia. He started with one grocery shop in 1871 and – eventually – was able to expand into a chain of about 400 shops with the help of aggressive advertising and low pricing. Year 1888 he decided to expand into tea and already the following year his organisation sold 4 million lbs of tea. A year later the amount had grown to 6 million lbs. Tea quickly became the most important sales article in his chain of grocery stores and transformed his business.


In 1890 he traveled to Australia and on that trip he made a short stop at the island of Ceylon. One thing you need to know about Mr. Lipton is that he was all for cutting the middleman and selling directly to the consumers. This is the reason why he wasn’t entirely happy to buy tea only at London’s tea auctions. Anyway, let’s get back to the Ceylon.

Those days there had been similar financial crisis as we have now, so the asking price for tea plantations was right, and he ended up buying several tea plantations. His acquisitions tallied only up to 15% of total tea production on Ceylon, but his marketing engine took care of the image and everybody from Britain to the States thought that Mr. Lipton owns the whole island. Even today we think tea when we see the word Lipton.

I wrote about how Sri Lanka wants to benefit from their internationally recognized brand of Ceylon tea. Like most things in life this is not without contradiction. You see, Sri Lanka Tea Exporters Association would like to have the right to import more tea to the island for blending and other processes that add value. Obviously


The other party would like to create a strong brand for Ceylon tea so that local tea plantations would have plenty of demand for their products. A big part of this brand is that the Ceylon tea is cultivated locally on the island and is not diluted with imported tea.

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