The Father of Sri Lankan Tea Honored by his Homeland
James Taylor set sail from Scotland at the age of 17 for Ceylon, Sri Lanka now. He never returned to his country of origin, but the impact of his work has changed the tea industry. Originally coffee was the main agricultural export of Sri Lanka until a disease brought the crop to its knees. After coffee was nearly wiped out on the island James Taylor consulted growers in Assam and brought seeds from India. He began the commercial planting of tea at Loolcondera Estate in 1867 on 19 acres. Through trial and error Taylor developed equipment and processes and eventually broke in to the European market in 1873. This small but significant sale began a tradition of trade which has grown and become the Sri Lankan tea industry that we know today. During James Taylor’s time in Sri Lanka he met with a fellow Scot, James Lipton who bought up several former coffee plantations and also made his name in the tea industry. There are plans for a bronze bust of Taylor in Auchenblae, Scotland where he was born and spent his formative years.