A large number of representatives from UK government authorities, international organizations, non-governmental bodies and private sector businesses joined the UK-edition of the Global Ceylon Tea Party, which was hosted by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London on 6th July in close collaboration with the Colombo Tea Traders Association and Sri Lanka Tea Board.
In her welcome address, the high commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK Her Excellency Ms. Amari Wijewardene highlighted the valuable role played by James Taylor, the Scottish planter, who pioneered commercial plantation of teas in the island 150 years ago and the overall contribution made by the British in the subsequent development of the tea industry. She also placed special emphasis on the world-wide recognition gained by Ceylon teas due to their premium quality and distinctive flavors.
Addressing the gathering, Ian Gibbs, Chairman of the International Tea Committee stated Sri Lanka had been an active player within the global tea industry, making a substantial contribution as a leading producer and exporter of black teas. He also said that Sri Lanka had been in the forefront as key exporter of value-added teas to the world.
Honorary Sri Lanka Tea Ambassador in the UK, Mike Bunston also spoke on this occasion. He presented a detailed account of the history and the gradual evolution of the Ceylon tea industry over the last 150 years. He said that the industry, which started with just 19 acres of tea plantation, had come a long way with many achievements. He also pointed out that the industry should take effective measures in addressing the challenges it had encountered in the current times if Sri Lanka was to retain its prominent status in the global tea industry.
Speaking on behalf of Finlays Colombo Limited, one of the sponsors of the event, Sathyani Rajapaksha, Procurement Manger of the company, stated that Finlays was very happy to join the tea party in London as there was a long-established relationship between the UK and the Ceylon tea industry.
Guests enjoyed the evening with a wide variety snacks & sweets and freshly brewed Ceylon teas, representing the seven agro-climatic tea growing regions in the island.