Join me on a Ceylon Tea trail in Sri Lanka – from plantation to the cup.
FANCY SOME TEA?
Let’s head to Nuwara Eliya, a city in Sri Lanka’s hill country, taking a scenic road from Kandy. As the weather gets increasingly cooler, it’s likely to turn off the air conditioner and let the tea aroma invade the car.
Along the way, the plantation area seems endless, with its various shades of green arranged in symmetrical lines. Looking a bit closer, we can have a glance on many women at work in the fields or walking by steep narrow paths with huge bags on their backs – since they need to reach a minimum weight to market the leaves on the roadside.
The manual harvest ensures the livelihood of many families in the region and contributes on making the local Ceylon tea so special to the palate.
I’m just beginning to find out more about tea and I’m surprised to learn that the same plant – rich in antioxidant properties – originates different varieties of tea. In fact, the differencials are designated by the part of the leaflet and grade, among other factors.
Nuwara Eliya’s tea factories also produce Green and White tea, not only their worldwide famous Orange Pekoe – also known as Ceylon Tea.
For those not familiar with the subject, I must add another basic information: Ceylon is the old name of Sri Lanka.
The country is still one of the largest exporters of tea, even after losing the leading position in the ranking due to a civil war.
In order to expand this market, some local brands organize factory tours, presenting each step of tea production and finishing up with tea tastings at their shopping area.
3 LITTLE SIPS
- I’m more into coffee than tea, as well as Sri Lanka and James Taylor used to be – not the singer, but a Scotsman with same name who is know as the pioneer tea planter in Kandy (even though he was initially a coffee farmer). This has happened more than 150 years ago, at a time when the country was the world’s leader in the production of … coffee.
- Camellia Sinensis is the scientific name for the tea plant and I found an interesting story about the first seeds that made it to Sri Lanka’s soil. They came all the way from China, in a tea plant brought by the British colonizers to be displayed at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy – that place I loved to visit.
- To be honest, I didn’t like the local coffee at all. But Sri Lankan tea, ah … is very, very, very good!
TEA TRAIL EXPERIENCES
Most Sri Lankan tea companies have created attractions for tourists and tealovers:
- tea plantation tours, as explained before
- exclusive itineraries including luxury accommodation overlooking the plantations
- Ceylon tea experiences featuring sophisticated dishes and gastronomic innovations
- special high tea offers available in hotels and rastaurants
Even the most affordable experience with Ceylon tea can get a little glamorous… The High Tea is served in many establishments, at prices that vary according to the style and quality offered.
It’s easy to picture myself living the British colonization era in Nuwara Eliya. The city retains an inherited atmosphere, preserving many examples of English architecture in contrast with the country’s tropical vibes Also, the weather in that region is a match – it’s even feasible to wear a jacket up there.
A #TEALOVER IS BORN!
Although coffee is still my number one passion, this tea trail has captivated me with the story – and quality – of Ceylon tea.