Why go there: If you’re a tea lover, your bucket list would never be considered complete without a trip to Nuwara Eliya: the epicenter of Sri Lanka’s thriving Tea production. The island formerly known as Ceylon is the world’s fourth producer of tea, and the commerce of our beloved beverage has been a predominant part of the country history since the early 1800s.
Although there are different regions of the island known for their tea, we choose Nuwara Eliya for its panoramic beauty, the unique flavor of its tea, and the pleasant altitude of 1,900m providing a crisp mountain air for both our hikes and visits to the plantations.
The experience starts on the drive to Nuwara’s plateau, which offers glorious views of Bogawantalawa Valley, and the gradual ascend allows plenty of photo opps of the beautiful lush landscape riddled with waterfalls. Once you gain enough altitude, the road is surrounded on both sides by tea plantations and workers. It seems like most fields are perfectly aligned to accommodate Tea Plucking Machines, however we much rather focus on the smiley ladies who carefully hand pick the recent tea buds every day.
Most factories are located right along the windy road, and there are quite a few options to choose from. Most Producers are open for walk-ins, and although factory tours are becoming quite standard, thanks to the lack of massive tourist influx, we manage to have a private in-depth tour of the facilities. Seeing the process of tea first hand, from withering, to oxidation, to rolling, has a certain beauty and satisfaction to it. As expected, all tours end in the Factory shop where most Producers sell their private label products and tea accessories.
The teas: Most teas follow a certain British tradition, with Earl Grey being the predominant offer, together with innumerous varieties of flavored Black tea blends, from tropical fruits, to spices, to everything in between. Most of the teas processed in the factory are shipped to Colombo to be auctioned by the big/medium buyers, and the process can take up to months.
Getting there: Options are limited to private car, taxi or train. You can hop on a train from Kandy that will stop both at Hatton and Nuwara Eliya. Cars with drivers are relatively inexpensive and are preferable in our opinion. Driving will allow you to stop whenever and wherever you’ll see a beautiful spot… and there are plenty.
Where to stay: There are a few boutique hotels in the area that are very charming, but due to our late arrival and the need to shelter our driver, we end up spending the night at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
The Bottom line: We highly suggest a visit to Sri Lanka in general. The island is slowly recovering from decades of civil war, and it is extremely welcoming (and safe) for visitors. Nuwara Eliya’s landscape is gorgeous, allowing for healthy and vibrant outdoor activities. Once you’re done with the plantations, we recommend a visit to Horton Plains National Park and the famous World’s End cliff.
Written by Francesco.
Posted on December 2016