Sri Lanka is an island that everyone falls in love with at some level. A very special island that offers a lot more than expected to people visiting, right from the beaches, mountains, wildlife, spirituality, culture, history, etc. But the one that takes my breath away is the acres and acres of green expanses, crowned with bright green leaves, just about to be plucked, by the pluckers on a slope of misty hills – the world-famous tea gardens.
When I first visited Sri Lanka it did not take much time to sink in the fact that tea is an important part of their culture and everyone seems to know a lot about it. Whereas in India tea is grown in certain regions and not everyone knows much about tea or tea gardens. In Sri Lanka, everyone seems to know because the island is not very expansive and there are three types of tea. High-grown, mid-grown and low-grown tea. The high-grown tea is grown at an elevation of over 6,000 ft and is light in colour and delicate in taste. It is found in Nuwara Eliya. Mid-grown tea, stronger in colour and flavour, can typically be found in the Kandy, Matale, and Bogawanthalawa areas. Low-grown tea is cultivated in the south of Sri Lanka, mostly in the Galle area, yielding strong, robust teas with a strong aroma and colour. You see every region has tea and hence the locals have knowledge about tea. Each region will say the tea estates in their region is the best. Well, don’t we all talk that way when we are proud of something?
When you are in Sri Lanka do take out time to visit a couple of tea estates there.
The lush greenery of these misty slopes has a soothing effect on you. It is said that green is the calmest colour in the spectrum. It has a sort of healing effect on you. Think about all the serenity and peace the hues of green in these estates will offer to you. And you sipping the flavourful beverage amidst the gardens on the misty hill slopes, right where it is was produced. How many of you know who have done that?
Out of all the three regions I loved the tea estates in Nuwara Eliya, it was also the journey to that region through the dense green foliage, beautifully laid out across the misty mountains. For me it was right out of a painting, steep mountains, classic old bridges, small villages dotted with waterfalls and smiling faces of the kids running along waving their hands. There was something magical about it. And being at 6000 ft it felt like heaven. While you are there check-out any of the below tea estates they are bound to leave you spellbound.
Mackwoods Tea Museum
It is very difficult to miss this wonderful tea museum, perched on a curve, all green and white. It’s surrounded by swirling rows of the plantation, the lush green hillsides all around striated by tea bushes with colourful dots here and there – the tea pickers of Plantation. You may not be a fan of museums but you would enjoy visiting this one. Take the tasting tours and enjoy teas of different flavours like apple tea, cinnamon, etc. the tour explains the entire tea making process. It is not boring to learn something on your vacation. There is a beautiful tea garden where you will get to relax for a while. Oh, the views from the estate are wonderful.
Pedro Tea Estate
Head for the Pedro Tea Estate, which lies nestled amongst the scenic beauty. Walkthrough the tea fields and watch closely how the colourfully clad tea pluckers carefully pick the prized “two leaves and bud” that go into making the world finest Pure Ceylon Tea. You can also try your hands at plucking. Then take the guided tour of the tea factory to understand how the sip that refreshes you every morning is made. Right from plucking, withering, rolling (not the other one), fermentation, firing and sorting/grading before it is packed. You will also know about the tea types, which are sorted as per the size. There are other tea estates too but these are the ones that I liked the most.
When you are on a vacation in Sri Lanka do visit some of the tea estates and spend some time there it will rejuvenate you. After all, as Lao Tzu said ‘Tea is the elixir of life’ and what could be a better place to have it.