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Ceylon Tea – Best Practices in COVID-19 Management

Ceylon Tea – Best Practices in COVID-19 Management

Last updated on August 11th, 2020 at 02:15 pm

Guideline on Prevention & Control of Spread of COVID-19 in Tea Plantation

Guideline on Prevention & Control of Spread of COVID-19 in Tea Plantation

Last updated on August 18th, 2020 at 10:29 am

Free Distribution of Wheat flour among Estate Labourer Families

Free Distribution of Wheat flour among Estate Labourer Families

Last updated on August 12th, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka of the Ministry of Plantations Industries and Export Agriculture obtained three metric tonnes of wheat flour free of charge thru kind courtesy of Lanka Sathosa of the Ministry of Internal Trade, Food Security and Consumer Welfare for distribution free of charge, as a relief dry ration package, to labourer families residing in the two estates at Talawakelle & Karapincha, Ratnapura.

This has been initiated by the Ministry of Internal Trade, Food Security and Consumer Welfare & Lanka Sathosa thru kind courtesy of Wheat Flour suppliers, as a relief measure to tide over food shortages that may occur among low income estate workers who have lost their daily earnings, due to stoppage of routine work in the estate sector due to Covid 19 outbreak.

This timely kind gesture by Lanka Sathosa, immediately after Sinhala & Tamil new year was a great relief to the low-income families of St. Coombs estate, Talawakelle and St. Joachim estate, Ratnapura as both the areas were also affected by the recent drought which also curtailed their daily earnings.

The 3 kg packs of wheat flour for each family were given, among 632 families at St. Coombs estate, Talawakelle and 264 families at St. Joachim estate, Ratnapura and the balance quantity is to be distributed among low income families in the tea gardens at TRI regional centres at Kandy, Passara, Kottawa and Deniyaya. The smiling faces of the families who received the relief packages were in gratitude to all those who extended this courtesy to them in the hour of their need for as the old saying goes friend in need is friend indeed!.

St. Joachim Estate, Ratnapura

St. Coombs Estate, Talawakelle

The Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka too joins them in expressing its gratitude to CEO Lanka Sathosa Mr. Dushmantha Totawatta, who initiated and coordinated this kind gesture to a successful completion, which benefitted low income families of Estate sector in their hour of need whilst being neck deep in his busy schedule of supplying essential foods to all, during the new year season.

Guideline on Measures to be Adopted following in Tea Lands following a Drought

Guideline on Measures to be Adopted following in Tea Lands following a Drought

Last updated on August 11th, 2020 at 12:36 pm

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Helpdesk Contact Details

Last updated on August 18th, 2020 at 10:31 am

Antiviral properties of tea: Black Tea may become the unique brew of choice with no side effects to fight against Corona virus?

Antiviral properties of tea: Black Tea may become the unique brew of choice with no side effects to fight against Corona virus?

Last updated on July 22nd, 2020 at 09:25 am

An outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)) (1) has been reported in more than 195 countries across 6 continents as of today.

Various attempts have been made across the globe, in search of therapeutic options exploring antiviral agents, to treat patients affected by COVID-19. In a recent study in Taiwan, antiviral activity of traditional Chinese medicinal compounds were screened for SARS-CoV-2 (2) where they screened chemical structures of 64 compounds through a molecular docking study focusing on an important therapeutic target, namely the RNA- dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), an important protease that catalyzes the replication of RNA from RNA template. If that can be blocked, by another molecule, SARS-CoV-2 would not multiply in the epithelial cells of the humans was the logic behind the experiment. Preliminary results suggest that out of the 64 compounds studied, Theaflavin was selected as the prime candidate for developing a SARS-CoV-2 inhibitor targeting RdRp. However, results are yet to be confirmed, in vivo studies before they could be translated into clinical benefits. Theaflavins are antioxidant polyphenols that are formed during enzymatic oxidation process in the manufacture of black tea. In the black tea manufacturing process this is commonly referred to as the "fermentation". It is the black tea which is rich in Theaflavin in contrast to green tea due to the difference in manufacturing process.

Figure 1- Black tea; A source of compounds known as Catechins, Caffeine, Flavonoids etc.

In addition, the other chemicals available in tea viz. catechins, methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline and theobromine) have shown antiviral activity in previous studies. Here, we wish to highlight on the potential of black tea as a rich source of antiviral compounds, as seen from literature already published elsewhere in this context. The broad-spectrum of antiviral activity of compounds found in Tea against several influenza viruses has been demonstrated in those studies which suggest that tea might be a promising source of antiviral compounds in the prevention and therapeutic aspects against influenza and that group of viruses; however, information on antiviral activity of back tea against SARS-CoV-2 is not clear yet but the fact that Theaflavin has emerged as a promising candidate to inhibit RdRp activity in the SARS-CoV-2 augers well in the search for a therapeutic agent against COVID-19 pandemic. Tea is the cheapest most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. While it has little nutritional value per se, good tea is refreshing, mildly stimulating, gives a feeling of well-being including proven health benefits. Health benefits attributed to tea consumption have been known dating back almost 5000 years since the beginning of this practice in historic times. The major chemical compounds which play a pivotal role in determining the health benefits of tea include catechins, alkaloids (caffeine, theobromine and theophylline), amino acids, volatile compounds, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, inorganic elements and organic acids. Black Tea is particularly rich in polyphenols including six primary catechins compounds namely Catechin(C), Gallocatechin(GC), Epicatechin(EC), Epigallocatechin(EGC), Epicatechin gallate(ECG) and Epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG) and di- and poly-meric catechins viz. Theaflavins (TF) and Thearubigins (TR) respectively. Observational and clinical studies have shown that the chemical constituents in tea play an important role in contributing to overall human health (3,4,5). Many epidemiological studies have shown that regular consumption of tea is associated with lowering, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, incidence of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The major chemical constituent found in black tea is polyphenols, particularly the flavonoids that have been reported to possess antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumour and antiviral activities (3). Alkaloid found in tea is Theophylline, a proven drug in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases. It relaxes and opens bronchial tree or air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe. Tea catechins, ECG and EGCG have been reported to be powerful antagonists of human immune-deficiency virus (5). The preventive and curative effects of black tea, and/or tea polyphenol, catechins blended with Theaflavins of tea on influenza virus disease has received an international patent (6). The above- mentioned active component compounds can deactivate the activities of hem-agglutinin and neuraminidase and can prevent infection of influenza virus to cells. By treating virus or cells with the above-mentioned compounds, the infection-preventive effect is shown. In addition, the effect is not limited as in vaccines because antigenicity is not utilized (6). Several studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of tea in controlling influenza and common cold generally caused by influenza viral infections. Tea catechins have the ability to bind to spikes on the surface of the influenza virus and inhibit viral adsorption onto the host cell surface. Studies show Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) of both black and green tea extracts inhibit infectivity of influenza virus (7, 8). Epidemiological studies conducted in Japan prove that daily intake of green tea reduces the incidence of influenza in adults and elementary school children (9,10). Interestingly, gargling with green tea extracts has been recommended as a preventive measure for influenza in some districts in Japan. The traditional knowledge has been confirmed by scientific studies demonstrating similar effects with black tea (11). Research has shown that antioxidants and L-Theanine in tea enhance immune system of humans, the former binds free radicals negating their effect while the latter primes the response of an immune system element called the gamma-delta T cell. In addition, the antibacterial properties of tea, as well as the vitamins and mineral products therein, synergize the immune system (4). When the immune system is strengthen by such mechanisms, tissue and cell repair are enhanced in such a way that the body regains its innate ability to resist invading microorganisms without succumbing to diseases caused by them From the foregoing it is clear, that daily tea consumption is very well linked to continual boosting or priming one`s innate ability in fighting diseases by assisting and strengthening one`s own immune system. It may be hypothesized through a literature review on therapeutic effects of tea and its known mechanisms of action on influenza viruses, that RNA viruses would be no exception including corona family of viruses which cause respiratory distress which could be relieved by Theophylline in tea while the multiplication would be curtailed by Theaflavin assisting the body to boost its own immune system which will keep microbes at bay. Information on antiviral, pharmacological activity, of back tea against SARS-CoV-2 is not clear yet but the fact that Theaflavin has emerged as a promising candidate to inhibit RdRp activity in the SARS-CoV-2 augers well in the search for a therapeutic agent against COVID-19 pandemic.


  1. Lung J, et al. (2020) The potential chemical structure of anti-SARS-CoV-2 RNA- dependent RNA polymerase. J Med Virol. ;1-5.
  2.  Guangdi Li and Erik De Clercq (2020) Therapeutic options for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Nature Rev. Drug Discovery Vol 19 :149 -150
  3. McKay, D L et al. (2011) Teas, tisanes and health. Teas, cocoa and coffee: plant secondary metabolites and health: 99-142.
  4. Sharangi, A B (2009) Medicinal and therapeutic potentialities of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) -A review. Food Res Int. 42.5-6: 529-535.
  5. Hamilton-Miller, J M (1995) Antimicrobial properties of tea (Camellia sinensis L.). Antimicrobial agents and Chemotherapy 39.11: 2375.
  6. Shimamura, T. and Y. Hara. (1991). Preventive and curative medicament against infection with influenza virus, containing tea or tea polyphenols. European patent EP 417385 A2.
  7. Nakayama et al. (1994) Inhibition of the infectivity of influenza virus by black tea extract. J Jpn Assoc Infect Dis 21: 824-829
  8. Nakayama et al. (1993) Inhibition of the infectivity of influenza virus by tea polyphenoles. Antiviral Res 21: 589-299
  9. Matsumoto K et al. (2011) Effects of green tea catechins and thaeanine on preventing influenza among healthcare workers; A Randomized control trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 11:15
  10. Park M et al. (2011) Green tea consumption is inversely associated with the incidences of influenza among schoolchildren in tea plantation area of Japan. J Nutr 141: 1862-1870
  11. Iwata M et al. (1997) prophylactic effect of black tea extract as gargle against influenza. J Jpn Assoc Infect Dis 71: 487-494


Authors wish to acknowledge the contributions made by Dr M W N Dharmawardene, Chairman, Tea Research Board for editing the manuscript critically, incorporating technical points where necessary and improving the flow of reading.


  Dr. Nelum Piyasena, Senior Research Officer, Biochemistry Division   Dr. Mahasen A B Ranatunga, Principal Research Officer, Plant Breeding Division   Dr. L S K Hettiarachchi, Director, Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka  

Report on climate change vulnerability and adaptation strategies for tea plantations released

A comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation strategies for the tea sector in Sri Lanka was officially released at the FAO-IGG on tea meeting held during May 25-27 at Naivasha, Kenya.� This book was written jointly by the scientists of the working group on climate change representing India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and China as a report of the FAO-IGG on tea. Dr.M.A.Wijeratne, Senior Research Officer and Officer in Charge of the Tea Research Institute, Low country Regional Center contributed to the chapter from Sri Lanka and other authors were Dr. RM Bhagat, India, Dr. John K Bore, Kenya and Dr. Wenyan Han, China. The first copy of the report was handed over to Mr. Kaison Chang, the Secretary, Intergovernmental Group on Tea. This report highlights the present status of the tea industry, tea growing regions and their climatic conditions, climate trends, impacts of climate change and vulnerable regions and most appropriate adaptation strategies to minimize adverse impacts. Additionally, some implications and barriers for adopting to climate change and policy interventions required have also been listed in the report. The report reveals that warmer regions with poor soil conditions are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Tea lands at high elevations are projected to be benefited by rising ambient CO2 levels and temperatures. As a result tea cultivations in many countries are projected to be shifted to higher altitudes. When tea growing regions of Sri Lanka are considered, low country region where the largest number of smallholdings are scatted are projected to be highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Of the proposed adaptation strategies, selecting most suitable agro-ecological regions with good soil conditions for tea cultivation (replanting and expansion), crop diversification to reduce risk of mono-cropping, use of a basket of cultivars incorporating drought, pest and disease tolerant tea cultivars in addition to those of high yield potential, soil and soil moisture conservation and improvement, proper establishment and management of shade trees, rainwater harvesting and irrigation, judicious use of chemical fertilizers and afforestation are given high priority. Additionally, the report emphasize the need for policy interventions in the areas of strengthening R&D institutes and their extension arms to conduct further assessments on climate change impacts, develop technologies applicable to different regions and farm sizes and conduct awareness programmes, providing guidance and financial assistance for climate change adaptation and mitigation (reduce Green House Gas emissions and increase Carbon sequestration) strategies, nature conservation and eco-tourism, establishment of national and international network on climate change to share knowledge and technologies, investments on field infrastructure development such as drainage system, irrigation system, road network and ecosystem diversity to improve level of adaptability of tea growers to climate change and introducing crop insurance schemes to minimize the impacts on tea growers and other stakeholders.

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