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.