Celebrating the Legacy of James Taylor: A Tribute to the Father of Ceylon Tea

The 189th birthday commemoration of the late James Taylor, known as the Father of Ceylon Tea, unfolded with solemnity and celebration on March 29th, 2024, in his birth village of Auchenblae, Aberdeen. Led by the Sri Lanka delegation, spearheaded by High Commissioner Rohitha Bogollagama, the event garnered the participation of over 100 esteemed members of the Auchenblae Heritage Society, distinguished guests, and key figures from Scotland’s tea trade, academia, media, and communities.

The High Commission of Sri Lanka in London organized the memorable occasion, in collaboration with Miss Anne Lawson, a senior member of the Auchenblae Heritage Society and a devoted advocate of Ceylon Tea. High Commissioner Bogollagama delivered a poignant keynote address, emphasizing the historic bonds between Sri Lanka and Great Britain, particularly through Ceylon Tea. He paid tribute to James Taylor’s pioneering efforts, which transformed Sri Lanka into an export economy and elevated the quality of life for its citizens. He urged the Scottish audience to honour Taylor’s memory by increasing their consumption of Ceylon Tea, brewed in the traditional manner, as a gesture of respect and solidarity.

Mr. Niraj de Mel, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, echoed High Commissioner Bogollagama’s sentiments in his speech, underscoring the historic ties between the UK and Sri Lanka in the tea trade. Attendees were treated to a traditional tea tasting session featuring seven varieties of Ceylon Tea, accompanied by Sri Lankan and Scottish delicacies, and they also received Ceylon Tea gifts and literature.

Following the tea tasting, High Commissioner Bogollagama, joined by UK Minister for Energy Hon. Andrew Bowie and other dignitaries, paid homage to James Taylor at his monument, offering a floral wreath in remembrance. The delegation then visited Taylor’s birthplace and ancestral home, facilitated by Anne and Tom Lawson, who graciously shared their family’s connections to Taylor.

Continuing the commemorative events, a Ceylon Tea Gala dinner was hosted by the Sri Lanka High Commission, Sri Lanka Tea Board, and key supporters at the Mary Cutler House Hotel in Aberdeen. Attended by around 90 guests, including Scottish dignitaries, tea industry professionals, community leaders, and influencers, the dinner showcased the rich heritage and flavours of Ceylon Tea.

High Commissioner Bogollagama and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board delivered speeches and presentations on Ceylon Tea, accompanied by tea videos. A memento was presented to Anne Lawson in recognition of her unwavering dedication to promoting Ceylon Tea and preserving James Taylor’s legacy.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Somasena Mahadiulwewa, Minister (Commercial) of the High Commission, concluding the evening on a note of gratitude and camaraderie. Following the dinner, High Commissioner Bogollagama and Minister Mahadiulwewa visited a chain of British-Sri Lankan-run shops in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and East London, promoting Ceylon Tea and Sri Lankan products.


Sri Lanka High Commission