Mon, May 13, 2013 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Sri Lanka sexes up image of tea to boost profits

AFP, KANDANA, Sri Lanka

Anil Cooke, head of Sri Lankan tea broking firm Asia Siyaka Commodities, agreed that Ceylon — known by the country’s colonial name — should be “re-positioned globally” with a focus on increasing its value.

“It is being done in a small way by a few companies, but it can be given a bigger boost,” Cooke said.

Leading the way is Gunaratne’s tea plantation in the south of the island, which has become a key tourist attraction with a tea museum, tours and tasting sessions.

Despite cutting daily tea leaf production from 20,000kg to just 2,000kg a day, his gourmet products now sell at 10 times the average retail price of loose tea in the local market.

“Since shifting to highly specialized teas ... I earn double what I did before,” Gunaratne said.

Cooke said he was not sure if the aphrodisiac properties or the big bucks from his Ceylon had put a permanent smile on the 69-year-old tea maker’s face.

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