<p>This watercolour portrays a typical Ceylon tea factory during the 1890s. Ceylon’s first major plantation crop, however, had been coffee, first established during the mid-1820s. It expanded rapidly until the appearance of a leaf disease in 1869, which progressively destroyed the industry. In 1839, tea seeds and young plants from Assam had been sent to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens near Kandy, leading to a number of successful planting experiments, and the first commercial crop was sown in 1867. Facing ruin, many coffee planters turned to tea and within a generation 250,000 acres of coffee plants had been cleared and burnt out, and replanted with tea seeds, largely imported from Assam. The advice of experienced tea cultivators from India supported the transition and old coffee storehouses were adapted to serve as tea factories. As the tea industry proved its profitability and expanded towards the turn of the century, new land was put under cultivation, and new factories were built, installed with the latest machinery. By 1900, tea was grown upon approximately 380,000 acres of land.</p><p>See Janus record <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0115%2FRCMS%20365%2F5%2F22'>here</a></p>
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