In Sri Lanka, Finlays own 26 estates: we have 18 tea estates, 5 tea and rubber estates, 2 solely rubber estates and 1 coconut estate. Apart from Courtlodge, they all have their own timber plantations.
Every year, these estates produce 14 million kilos of tea and 1 million kg of rubber latex.
In Sri Lanka, we employ 14,000 people, supporting a population of 69,000 residents, 19,200 homes, 37 hospitals 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, we do also have factories producing CTC teas through the cutting, tearing and curling process. Within our estate in Sri Lanka we also have a factory producing high quality bespoke Ceylon green tea.
We are located in four major regions:
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. Here are the main types of tea we produce:
Matale (Kandy) teas tend to produce a relatively bright infusion with a coppery tone. Though lighter in the cup, they present a good deal of strength and body. Most Kandy-district estates lie on the western slopes of the hills, so their taste is influenced by the ‘western quality season’, meaning that the best tea is produced during the first quarter of the year, when cool, dry weather sets in across the district.
The Uda Pussellawa district is situated close to Nuwara Eliya, so its tea is often compared to that of its neighbour. But it is darker in the cup, with a pinkish hue, of greater strength, and exquisitely tangy. Colder conditions at year end supposedly add a hint of rose to the bouquet of a tea known for its medium body and subtle character.
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.
Sabaragamuwa is Sri Lanka’s biggest district, the teas of which are low-grown as its estates range in elevation from sea level to 610m (2000 Ft). The liquor is dark yellow-brown with a reddish tint. The aroma has a hint of sweet caramel.
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.
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:
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.
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.