We want to share with you the intriguing tale of a very special black tea we call Thieves' Tea, also fondly referred to as "Illegal Tea." This enchanting brew hails from the lush tea plantations of Sri Lanka and carries a story as rich as its flavour.
It begins as most brews do with tea leaves being gathered. They are then pounded in a traditional stone "vangedi" (mortar) before being left to oxidise and dry, resulting in a unique and aromatic brew. You might wonder why such a delightful process would be considered illegal, and the answer takes us back to the colonial era.
In the days of British rule, tea production in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) was dominated by large British-owned estates. The plantation workers, often facing harsh working conditions and low wages, sought a way to keep some of the tea leaves for themselves. They began making tea at home using the vangedi method, cleverly evading the watchful eyes of the estate owners.
The British caught wind of this crafty endeavor and quickly put a stop to it, passing a law that banned people from making tea at home in this style. They suspected that the workers were pocketing the leaves, hence the nickname "Thieves' Tea." While years have passed since the colonial era, this intriguing law still remains in place, making Vangedi Pekoe technically illegal to produce.
But fear not! This captivating piece of Sri Lankan heritage lives on, passed down through generations in hushed whispers and secret gatherings. Sudeminke, from AMBA plantation has shared her families stories & recipe so that we are able to bring this unique cuppa to you. Locals continue to craft this tea in the warmth of their homes, keeping its legacy alive despite the lingering legal shadows.
As you sip on a cup of Thieves' Tea, you can't help but marvel at the audacity of those early tea enthusiasts who defied the odds to create this flavourful elixir. The aroma of the tea leaves, combined with the spirit of rebellion in every sip, makes for a truly immersive tea experience.
So, be sure to embark on a quest to taste this unique concoction and immerse yourself in the captivating history of Thieves' Tea. Remember, this tea is more than just a beverage; it's a symbol of resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity.
As we part ways for now, let's raise our teacups in honour of the daring tea-makers of the past and celebrate the essence of Thieves' Tea – a tea that will forever remain steeped in mystery and intrigue.