Colombo Tea Traders' Association of Sri Lanka
The tea industry was formerly inaugurated in 1867 with the first tea estate Loolecondera, established by James Taylor himself. By the by early 1890s there were a considerable amount of tea produced and suitable measures to regularise the process became necessary.
By the request of tea producers, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce formed the Colombo Tea Traders' Association (CTTA) in 1894. Main objectives of the CTTA were to oversee and manage the business of the tea trade as well as to regulate sale of tea in a more efficient and formal manner.
One of the first tasks of the Colombo Tea Traders' Association was to embark on compiling a set of standards to facilitate tea sales in a systemic manner.
Further to the formation of the CTTA the Colombo tea auction was officiated and the association was given the duty of taking the tea business as well as the tea auction forward. They endeavoured to ensure the condition of the country was best suited for growing and selling tea, attaining the best prices for Ceylon black tea, and to maintain proper standards of quality.
The Colombo Tea Traders' Association agreed in 1898 that its committee will constitute of four buyers and sellers each, and the chairman of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce will act as the chairman of the CTTA.
As the members of the Colombo Tea Traders' Association were more familiar and expert in tea knowledge, even the government turned to them to determine statutory measures and sort industry disputes with regards to tea. Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) was inaugurated in 1976 and was appointed as the official authority to regularise the tea industry. They undertook the Colombo tea auction, as by then almost 100% of the tea production was owned by the government. Nevertheless, they naturally allowed the Colombo Tea Traders' Association to continue with the tea auction functions, as they were the experts in it. Later CTTA's right to manage the tea auction was formalised via a Gazette Extraordinary.
Further to the privatisation of tea estates in the 1990s, the Colombo Tea Traders' Association was revived and they participated actively in the business and industry. They had formed a more visionary goal to bring about efficiency to the Ceylon tea trade. Its committee composition changed from four to five buyers and sellers each- selected through a secret vote-, and a representative of the brokers. They met once a month and discussed the issues of the tea industry and tried to search for solutions.
The Colombo Tea Traders' Association celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2019. Their future goals contain the vision of completely automating the Colombo tea auction system to make it more efficient and effective. They also expect that it will bring about more transparency to the value chain and integrity to the tea trade. Another objective of the Colombo Tea Traders' Association is to develop skills of people engaged in the tea trade.
The Colombo Tea Traders' Association has the best interests of Sri Lankan tea trade in their hearts. They are held in high regard by the international community. The Colombo tea auction managed by the CTTA is considered a model tea auction of the world, not to mention the oldest one with a single origin tea. Many tea professionals make it a point to visit the Colombo tea auction to witness the efficient processes and learn from the best.