Colombo, Feb. 7 - Sri Lanka earned a record $1 billion from tea exports last year, despite a drop in volumes, the island's tea board said Thursday.
Sri Lanka, the world's largest exporter of tea after Kenya, earned $1.03 billion in 2007 compared with $881.2 million in 2006, said the Sri Lanka Tea Board.
"This is the first time our exports have surpassed a billion dollars in the 141-year-old tea industry," the board said.
In volume terms, exports of Sri Lankan tea known as "Pure Ceylon Tea" fell to 311.75 million kilos in 2007, down from 327.41 million kilos a year earlier.
Russia and former Soviet republics were the largest market for Sri Lankan tea and accounted for nearly a fifth of the total tea exports.
"Liberalization of tea markets such as Iran, Iraq and Libya will boost demand for Ceylon Tea this year," said commodity brokers Asia Siyaka.
Sri Lanka's high-quality aromatic teas are made with tender leafs and buds of the plant botanically known as Camellia Sinenis.