As Brits, tea is practically in our blood. We are a nation fuelled by a good cuppa. But, although the packaging may suggest homegrown leaves (yes, we’re looking at you Yorkshire Tea), few of us know where our morning brew actually comes from. The glaringly obvious answer? Asia. A sprawling continent in which they actually have the climate to cultivate the good stuff. Alongside China and India, Sri Lanka is one of the world’s top tea producing nations, meaning that a great, big, fat fifth of the tea sold around the world originates from this teeny tiny island nation.
Up in the genteel highlands of Nuwara Eliya – a hill station dubbed ‘Little England’ – the rolling topography is defined by impeccably assembled plantations. Here, the contour planting methods result in row upon row of hill-hugging shrubs. Here, the lush views are endless. Here, one of the country’s biggest exports has been growing since our colonial ancestors introduced the trade back in 1867. Here, you’re in the home of tea. Does anything sound more music-like to British ears? We don’t think so either.
The verdant vistas are enough in themselves to be a big holiday tick, but these plantations aren’t just easy on the eye, they play an integral part in the day-to-day lives of Sri Lanka’s people. In fact, around five percent of the island’s entire population make a living from the billion-dollar tea industry and it’s not easy work. Tea buds must be picked by hand every seven to 14 days (before the leaves grow too tough), so work locations are rotated depending on which buds need picking. Once picked, there’s a hefty process to turn the leaves into the tea that we know and love. Drying and ‘withering’ is just the first step, then there’s the fermentation process which starts to develop the distinctive flavour and the sorting of leaves by size and type into bulk bags that will most likely be sent on to Colombo to be sold in auction.
But don’t just take our word for it. If you fancy getting familiar with the origins of your daily cuppa for yourself, we’ve got just the ticket. Our Nuwara Eliya base experience means that you’ll get the chance to actually visit a plantation, rather than just admiring its beauty from afar. Here, you’ll learn all about the near 200 year history of the industry, take a tour of a working factory – most are still using the original machinery – and even try your hand at being a tea-picker. Oh and the experience wouldn’t be completed without actually trying some teas, obvs. ‘Hard work’ over, enjoy a brew or two whilst soaking up the oh-so-green scenes.
Keen to visit Nuwara Eliya’s tea plantations? Simply add Nuwara Eliya to your holiday. Explore our Sri Lanka holidays now.
24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These babies are part and parcel of Sri Lanka’s top-notch topography.
They’re free to see if you opt to add Nuwara Eliya onto your trip.
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