Finlays’ tea estates in Sri Lanka consist of two companies: Hapugastenne Plantations Limited and Udapussellawa Plantations Limited. Comprising 26 estates in total, there are 18 tea estates, five tea and rubber estates, two solely rubber estates and one coconut estate. Apart from Nuwara Eliya, they all have their own timber plantations. Per year, these estates produce 14 million kilos of made tea and 1 million kg of rubber latex. We employ 14,000 people and have a population of 69,000 residents on our estate housing schemes, where there are 19,200 homes. There are also 37 hospitals and dispensaries and 160 schools. Our estates lie at various altitudes from 500m to 2,200m above sea level and, as a result, enable us to produce a range of teas which are distinctive in character and flavour. Whilst the majority of our factories manufacture Orthodox teas by the orthodox tea-making process, two factories, Madulkelle and Duckwari, also make CTC teas through the cutting, tearing and curling process.
We are located in four major regions:
- Nuwara Eliya, the famous Sri Lankan hill station, produces high-grown teas known as the ‘champagne’ of Ceylon teas.
- Matale, just north east of the hill capital of Kandy, produces medium-grown teas.
- Uva-Udapussellawa produces medium and high-grown orthodox teas.
- Sabaragamuwa (Ratnapura / Rakwana) in the south west of the country, where primarily low-grown, orthodox teas are produced.
Our 19 tea factories sell teas under some highly sought after selling mark’s (‘mark’s’ are essentially long-established trade names for teas from a certain estate or a division of an estate). Our mark’s in Sri Lanka include Kenmare Courtlodge Tommagong and Adawatte and Shawlands. Some of these are highly sought after by buyers as single-origin gourmet teas.
Continually improving the processes and efficiencies within our factories is one of several initiatives we have embarked upon as part of our drive to achieve the highest quality standards for our products. Industry standards on ISO and HACCP, as well as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, are being implemented by adhering to their stringent measures and guidelines.
Tea from Sri Lanka falls into three categories: low-grown (on estates up to 2000 ft high); medium grown (between 2000 and 4000 ft); and high grown (over 4000 ft). Each level produces teas of unique character. By blending teas from different areas of the island, Sri Lanka can offer a very wide range of flavour and colour. Some are full-bodied, others light and delicate, but all Ceylon blends will have brisk full flavours and bright golden colour.
Because of the geographical location, tea can be plucked in Sri Lanka all year round: the west and east of the island are divided by central mountains so that as each region’s season ends, the other begins.
Dimbula Probably the most famous of Ceylon teas, Dimbula is cultivated on estates first planted with tea when their coffee crops failed in 1870. Grown 5000 ft above sea level, all Dimbula teas are light and bright in colour with a crisp strong flavour that leaves the mouth feeling fresh and clean.
Today, it forms part of the high-grown zone of central Sri Lanka which includes Dickoya and Nuwarah Eliya.
Kenilworth This tea has long wiry beautiful leaves that give an exquisite, almost oaky taste and good body and strength.
Uva Uva is a fine flavoured tea grown at altitudes between 2,000ft and 4,000ft above sea level on the eastern slopes of the Central Mountains in Sri Lanka. It has a bright, deep amber colour when brewed, with the brisk and crisp, strong Ceylon flavour. These teas are also used in Ceylon blend and make an ideal morning drink or an after-lunch tea.
Saint James This is a copper-coloured infusion with a very smooth, pronounced taste and a wonderful aroma. It is a perfect breakfast or day time tea.
Nuwara Eliya Nuwara teas are light and delicate in character, bright in colour and with a fragrant flavour. Their flavour is heightened when taken with lemon rather than milk.
Nuwara Eliya Estate This tea has a bright brisk flavour and a wonderful perfume, good to drink at any time of day with just a little milk.
Ceylon Blend Ceylon teas span the entire spectrum of tea production, from low to high grown teas. By blending teas from different areas of the island, Sri Lanka is able to offer a very wide choice of flavour and characteristics. Some blends are full bodied, others are light and delicate, but all are brisk, full flavoured and have a bright colour.
The nature of our business is such that we have always been very aware and active in the whole gamut of sustainability issues. Tea estates by their nature are small communities which have a very close and dependent relationship with the environment. However, to improve both our transparency and our performance, we are in the process of introducing a more systematic triple bottom line reporting method which covers the full spectrum of our economic, environmental and social impacts.
With over 15,000 hectares of tea, rubber and forest plantations, we have a significant impact on Sri Lanka’s environment. One of our aims is to report precisely on the effect we have on our environment and on how we can migrate to more sustainable systems of management. To further this, there are some important initiatives underway.
Sustainable Energy Sources Our factories are now entirely powered by sustainable sources of timber. Our goal is to be completely self sufficient in fuel wood across all our estates in the next five years. We no longer use fossil fuels and on our estates in Hapugastenne and Alupolla we also have two hydroelectric generating plants with a total capacity of over 8.5 MW.
Sustainable Forest Management We adhere to all the CEA’s environmental rules and guidelines and those of other monitoring authorities and, within these parameters, have begun a programme to re-establish and maintain appropriate agricultural and forest crops.
Climate Change and our Carbon Footprint We are in the process of establishing our carbon balance sheet or footprint with an aim to reducing our emissions of global greenhouse gases. Once this footprint has been established it will then be possible to identify the specific areas where we should concentrate – both to become more carbon efficient and potentially to generate revenue through the provision of carbon sequestration or other environmental services.
Our primary goal is to be a responsible corporate citizen, enhancing the quality of life in our local communities. There are always enormous challenges as an employer with such large numbers of people living and working on our estates. In order to maximise our effectiveness, we focus particularly on helping children in three key areas: education, training and health.
Starting at birth, we have a concerted programme of antenatal and neonatal care. Working closely with our estate dispensaries and government hospitals, we provide advice, nutrient supplements, medical treatment, immunisations and monthly clinic services.
Through health camps, we assist our estate communities in gaining access to physicians and specialists and also provide them with comprehensive testing facilities including regular, free, sight checks.
Our continual efforts to improve housing facilities and health conditions have been recognised by several awards at the annual award ceremonies of the Plantation Human Development Trust ( PHDT ).
With 37 hospitals and dispensaries, as well as 160 schools on our estates, our investment in the social welfare of our employees is significant.
We have also invested considerable resources in order to maintain a safe working environment and healthy employees. Documented medical histories of all factory staff enable us to monitor them, conduct monthly medical check-ups and increase their awareness of key health issues. All this activity is overseen by Health and Safety Committees, which meet twice a month.