Tea Time in the Sri Lankan Highlands

Tea is one of those drinks that everyone is happy to talk about. Every person you meet has an opinion on it. How to drink it, how to prepare it, when it should be consumed; even how it should or should not be taxed (and its effect on the Boston harbour).

ROLLING BY: Hills of tea beside the road.

I enjoy a warm tea before bed, and in case you are wondering: Black, no sugar, leave the leaves in!

ADAM’S PEAK: Sri Pada in the distance as we headed for the plantations.

As tea enthusiasts, Linh and I were thrilled to spend time in the mountains of Sri Lanka where we had the opportunity to see the legacy of various empires’ quest for a bit of flavour in their water over the years (which is a fairly apt way to boil down a history of oppression into a quippy sentence).

As we travelled by train across the island, we had seen the steep fields of tea and Linh hoped to get the chance to pick some of her own. It was partially for this reason that we stopped in Nuwara Eliya on our return from climbing Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada).

ROLLING GREENS: This club is a legacy of the English Colonial impact on the region.

OLD MARKET: However Sri Lanka’s visceral charm is still alive and well, long after the empires have dwindled.

Our destination was The Heritage Tea Company, a plantation a little way out of the town where we’d heard you could stay, and where you could try your hand at harvesting tea.

We arrived in the town and spent the night at the Grosvenor Hotel where we endured the most heavily peppered mushroom soup I have ever imagined. The next morning we took a Tuk-tuk through the winding mountain road to the plantation while the morning fog still lingered.

SKY NOT FOUND: A morning fog by which we entered.

SIGNPOSTED: The entrance to Heritage Tea Factory

We were glad that we decided to stay in the town as the Heritage plantation is not the place to stay on a budget, but we found the tour to be enjoyable and enlightening. We did indeed get to pick our own tea, although it proved to be slightly more difficult than you might think. Once we’d unloaded our harvest we dropped it off to be processed and took a bit home to remember the experience. While it is possible to take your own harvested tea home once it is processed, we only stayed for the morning and it takes a few days for it to be ready, so our tea went into someone else’s teapot.

STYLISH: Einstein’s Barber never seems to wear it quite as well.

Nuwara Eliya is in itself a delightful fusion of Sri Lankan highland and English Colonial relic and it was one of the more memorable mountain stops that we made during the trip.

LOUD: The grinding machine in action hence the blur.

Now, a few years on we look at our voluminous tea collection and notice that we have gone through all of the Ceylon tea we collected in Sri Lanka, so something tells me that it is time to return to the little teardrop island off India (at least once we get past the plague that is COVID), to replenish our stocks.

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