Ceylon Glenwood Reserve is a highly unusual black tea made by a small factory specialising in artisanal handmade teas. The factory is located in Rikillagaskada in Central Province, however the leaves for this tea are sourced from the historic Loolecondera Tea Plantation, situated a short distance away in Kandy District. This plantation produces medium-grown tea, with an elevation of around 1,200m. Picked from old sinensis bushes by hand at the plantation, it is then carefully hand-processed at the artisanal factory. This tea is inspired by Chinese black tea and as such delivers both an exciting and unusual flavour profile, while also representing some classic Ceylon flavours. This lot is from the Spring 2021 harvest.
Glenwood Reserve is a small artisanal factory run by two brothers with a background and passion for Chinese tea. They work with local producers to source the best raw material to turn it into something special and unique. The raw material for this tea comes from the Loolecondera Tea Plantation, the first commercial tea plantation in Sri Lanka. It is considered to be the birthplace of Ceylon tea as it is the location where James Taylor first successfully planted and produced tea in Sri Lanka. The old bush material translates into a complex flavour, and combined with careful processing, the results are superb.
The tea farmers in Sri Lanka have had a difficult recent past, with the government encouraging more farmers to switch to CTC (crush, tear, curl) methods of tea production in the 1990’s, trying to capture the huge CTC market. CTC tea is normally used to fill tea bags, so the move was away from quality and onto quantity. This switch from orthodox methods was a big failure as Sri Lankan teas could not compete with cheaper CTC teas from other large and the then up-and-coming CTC tea growing countries, such as India, Kenya and Malawi. This move also damaged the reputation and quality of Sri Lankan tea, resulting in many farmers choosing to eventually abandon CTC production in favour of orthodox methods of tea production. Now Sri Lanka is rightly regaining its status as a major exporter of high quality orthodox teas and there are more and more interesting and exciting producers of these quality Ceylon teas. Still such productions are very small and limited, with this Ceylon Glenwood Reserve being one of the best current examples.
The leaves of our Ceylon Glenwood Reserve are dark, large and are twisted in shape. It produces a dark amber liquor with a fruity and malty aroma. The soft flavour has no astringency and has a similar quality to a fruity Dian Hong or a malty Keemun. The smooth fruity flavour has notes of cooked plums and a floral honey aftertaste that is definitely inspired by teas from China. At the same time there is a great mineral aspect, malty notes of molasses and a hint of tannins and light wood that is definitely pointing towards the Ceylon heritage of this tea. The aftertaste is clean and lasting, with more of the floral honey notes coming through. This is an excellent tea, and most unusual for a Ceylon. It is bound to appeal to lovers of both Ceylon and Chinese quality black tea!
It is best brewed with water at 90°C for 3-4 minutes and the leaves can be brewed around 2+ times. While traditionally Sri Lankan teas are most suited to western-style of brewing, this tea works exceptionally well for gong fu brewing, using similar brewing parameters to Chinese black tea.