Join me for 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 in 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 van. Along the way, the plantations seems endless, with various shades of green arranged in symmetrical lines. Looking a bit closer, we’re able to see many women at work in the fields or walking by steep narrow paths with huge bags on their backs – as 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. I’m surprised to learn that the same plant – rich in antioxidant properties – originates different varieties of tea. In fact, it depends on the part of the leaflet and grade, among other factors. Nuwara Eliya’s tea factories also produce Green and White tea, not only the Orange Pekoe – that’s usually known as Ceylon Tea.
I must add another basic information for those not familiar with the subject: Ceylon is the old name of Sri Lanka. The country is still one of the largest exporters of tea, even losing the leading position in the ranking because of a civil war. In order to increase the market, some local brands organize factory tours, showing the process of tea production step by step then finishing up with tea tastings at their shopping area.
3 LITTLE SIPS
- I also was always more into coffee than tea, as well as Sri Lanka and James Taylor – not the singer, but a Scotsman with the same name. Although he used to plant coffee, the guy was recognized as a pioneer tea planter in Kandy. That 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 tea, ah … the tea is very, very, very good!
In addition to the factories visits, the tea companies has created other attractions for tourists and tealovers: exclusive itineraries including luxury accommodation overlooking the plantations, Ceylon tea harmonization with sophisticated dishes and culinary innovations. Even the most affordable experience, such as an afternoon tea, can get some extra glamor. 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 some examples of English architecture. Also, the climate collaborates – it’s even feasible to wear a jacket.
A TEALOVER IS BORN!
Although passionate about coffee, I’m captivated by the story – and quality – of Ceylon tea.
Cheers! Xoxo, Prats