Tea Scots

Gourdon Fishermen

Scots have played a fascinating part in the tea industry's rich history. Many Scots went to India and Ceylon ( now Sri Lanka) to run tea plantations. To find out more , join one of Professor Angela McCarthy's talks about James Taylor, take the James Taylor Bus Tour or visit the Heritage Exhibition at Auchenblae.




JAMES TAYLOR - “The  Father of the Ceylon Tea Industry”
-son of a wheelwright, born March 1835 at Mosspark near Auchenblae in the parish of Fordoun.
In 1852 James Taylor arrived in Ceylon to work on a coffee plantation. Whilst there the coffee crops suffered from a disease which meant that new crops could not be planted in the same ground. The economy of Ceylon depended upon coffee and the young entrepreneurial  James Taylor played a vital role in saving the island’s economy by establishing the tea industry. Scotland’s James Taylor was so revered in Ceylon that to this day he is known as “The Father of the Ceylon Tea Industry”. James also played a role in establishing and encouraging the growing of Cinchona and Rubber trees which remain important crops on the island.

A trip to Sri Lanka (Ceylon of today)) finds monuments, a museum and tributes to James  Taylor, yet few Scots know of him.
Scotland’s Tea Festival will tell you all about James Taylor at the James Taylor Exhibition in Auchenblae.

James Taylor researcher Professor Angela McCarthy from Dunedin University will be present at the Opening Dinner and delivering  talks to the general public and school students during the Tea Festival.  


ROBERT FORTUNE - The Scot who risked his life to give us our daily cup of tea
Robert  Fortune  grew up in the Scottish Borders where his father who worked as a hedger/ farmworker taught him a great deal about rural horticulture.  Robert became a gardener, botanist and plant hunter. In 1848 the East India Company commissioned him to return to China on another plant hunting expedition with the  specific remit of acquiring tea plants,  tea seeds and the knowledge of growing and processing tea- all this from a country that would not sell, or share any of their tea secrets with the rest of the world!
This act of espionage put Fortune in great danger and his only weapons were a rusty old pistol and a pigtail. However he returned home having successfully carried out his mission, and it is to this heroic Victorian Scot, that we owe our gratitude for almost every cup of tea we consume.


HERCULES LINTON -  Designed  the Cutty Sark-the fastest Tea Clipper to sail the seas
Hercules Linton was born and brought up in Inverbervie, Kincardineshire and served his apprenticeship with Alexander Hall & Sons , Aberdeen.

In 1869 Scott and Linton of Dumbarton were commissioned to build the Cutty Sark –Scott was the business manager and Hercules Linton the Cutty Sarkdesigner. The remit was to design and construct a ship to carry tea from China to Britain, faster than any other vessel of the day. Linton’s unique design achieved this.

The Cutty Sark is one of the most famous vessels in the world, not just because of her history, or what she represents, but “ she is the most beautiful of all sailing ships”….come and learn about her at the James Taylor Exhibition.

The story of the Cutty Sark is quite amazing and intriguing and she can be seen today in her beautifully restored state at National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.



Thomas Lipton was the son of  an Irish grocer in Glasgow. He emigrated to New York where he learned his trade  and returned to Glasgow where he started his own business.After building up a  very successful chain of grocery shops in the UK he decided to travel to  Australia calling off in 1888 at Ceylon en route. There he met James Taylor,  purchased four tea plantations and embarked on a very successful marketing  programme which significantly improved the profile of Ceylon tea on the world  market.


srilankatartanThe Sri Lankan Scottish Tartan was designed not only to commemorate the tragic tsunami disaster of 2004 which devastated so many of Sri Lanka's coastal towns and settlements. It also marked the rebirth of so many communities with financial and practical aid from Scotland - a close cultural and economic friend of Sri Lanka for well over a century. The design incorporates the colours of the Sri Lankan flag - red, green, yellow and orange with the four yellow lines representing the pipul tree leaves from the flag. The black and white in the midst of the blue are the colours of mourning associated with the tsunami but also represent hope for the future and the blue and white Saltire - the flag of Scotland. The green squares are from the Clan Cameron tartan and the Glasgow District tartan and they commemorate the Father of Ceylon Tea, James Taylor from Kincardineshire and Thomas Lipton from Glasgow's Gorbals, whose enthusiastic promotion of Ceylon tea founded its huge success in the western world.


Scotland's Tea FestivalScotland’s Tea Festival came about through the wish of a handful of people to share with others, the quite amazing story of a local, unsung Victorian entrepreneur, James Taylor of Mosspark, Auchenblae who left home to work in the coffee plantations of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon), and how he became revered as “The father of the Ceylon Tea Industry” ! 

Local retired grocer Mr Lindsay came up with the Tea Festival idea and each time it was mentioned to a ‘local’, it was embraced with great enthusiasm. The Tea Festival idea has grown so many arms and legs since it was first mooted that it has become SCOTLAND’S TEA FESTIVAL.

An enthusiastic and hardworking group of people have put together an exciting and varied programme of ‘tea inspired’ events from Tealicious Tearooms to a Teddy Bears Picnic, James Taylor Heritage Exhibition to High Teas, Afternoon Tea to Art workshops, Cutty Sark Knot tying to Cakes,  tea tasting and blending, tea cocktails, talks, lectures, afternoon teas, high teas, opening dinner, unveiling of a plaque on James Taylor’s home gives a good idea of the creative force leading the Festival.

For full details on all that the festival has to offer Click Here >