By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane

MOST people enjoy a cuppa, however very few know about the tea pioneers who brought this leaf to our shores

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The tea leaves are laid out to dry at the factory

It all began in 1867, when British citizen James Taylor arrived in Sri Lanka and introduced Ceylon tea at the country’s first estate, Loolecondera.

The tea plantation quickly transformed into a factory due to high demand and the Ceylon tea industry has been growing ever since.

The leaves are contained in large paper packages
Mainly women work in the tea plantation

Travel photographer, Russell Pearson, visited the tea plantations in the small town of Ella in March 2017.

He said: "As many as 28 different grades of Ceylon tea are produced at plantations across the island, from the country’s biggest tea-growing region, Sabaragamuwa, to the sparsely populated Uva province in the south east.

Girls typically follow their mothers, grandmothers and older sisters on the plantations
Usually a full bag of tea leaves after a day of picking tea weighs 18kg

"I took a train from Colombo to Kandy and then another train from Kandy to Ella, this particular stretch is one of the most scenic train rides in the world.”

Benefiting from humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall, Sri Lanka is the world's fourth-largest producer of high-quality tea.

The hills are the perfect conditions to produce high - quality tea
The first tea plantation was introduced in 1867

The tea leaves are typically picked by young women, the minimum working age being twelve.

Russell said: "You can see in the fields how hard it is for a tea picker, which are usually women as they have smaller hands to pick the tea more carefully.

Sri Lanka is the world's fourth-largest producer of high-quality tea.
Surprisingly, all types of tea come from the same plant

"Usually a full bag of tea leaves after a day of picking tea weighs up to 18kg, for this they earn a mere $4-$5.”

Despite all the varieties available in supermarkets, surprisingly all tea originates from the same plant.

The photographer said: "The white tea is made from the tips, the green tea from the lower leaves and black tea is a mix from all the leaves together."