MEARNS, Scotland – When he arrived in Scotland to learn more about tea pioneer James Taylor, Takeshi Isobushi had no idea his quest would launch the country’s first tea festival.
Last week hundreds gathered for a three-day celebration beginning with the dedication of a plaque at Taylor’s home in Mossbank, outside Auchenblae
Taylor brought commercial tea production to Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) in the mid-1800s, a feat that single-handedly rescued the island’s economy.
Isobushi, a Japanese author, essayist and student of tea, traveled in Taylor’s footsteps to better understand the foundation of Ceylon’s famous tea. His inquiry stirred the national interest in Taylor and his adventures.
It was fitting then that Isobushi would return for the festivities along with some other dignitaries in tea that included Frances Humphreys, a great-granddaughter of Taylor’s sister Margaret. She brought with her a silver tea set given to Taylor in 1890 by the Planters’ Association of Ceylon.
Historian Angela McCarthy of Otago University, a professor of Scottish and Irish history in New Zealand, told of how Taylor’s connections to the once-thriving coffee industry made him aware of Ceylon’s tragic plight.
In 1869 the island of Ceylon was the largest coffee producing country in the world. In a few short years the entire country’s industry collapsed, the coffee plantation trees killed by Coffee Rust fungus.
In 1866 Taylor had visited India where he learned to grow tea. He planted 20 acres that thrived on the Loolecondra coffee plantation in Ceylon, eventually harvesting 23,000 metric tons a year. Taylor was instrumental in introducing others to the cultivation of tea and today Sri Lanka is one of the largest exporters of tea in the world.
Source: The Courier
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Photo Credits: Photos by Jane Pettigrew