Everyone has known for a long time, Ceylon tea is one of the most delicious, flavourful teas. Who among us did not drink Princess Noori, Princess Kandy and many other Ceylon teas in our childhood or adolescence? Ceylon tea, is a kind of quality mark. We wouldn’t hesitate to favour Ceylon tea over other teas that clutter the supermarket shelves.

Ceylon tea is not really Ceylon tea, but more accurately Ceylon-China or Ceylon-India. The first tea bushes were brought to the island by Indian and Chinese merchants who wanted to set up production on the island of Ceylon.

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Tea plantations in Sri Lanka

There are 8 main zones within the island where the famous tea plantations are located. Each of the areas grows its own unique variety of tea, which differs from its neighbours in leaf size, taste, notes. Depending on the area of origin, the teas vary in price. We will introduce you to the tea-growing areas in more detail later in this article. Tea is divided by place of origin into: highland, mountain and common tea.

Tours to tea plantations and factories

Tours to tea plantations and factories are a special love of all tourists visiting the island. You will be amazed by the beautiful scenery, tea bushes and tea plantations. The process of tea picking itself will leave a lasting impression on you, as it is entirely manual. Nothing has changed in more than 200 years as tea is still being gathered by the Sri Lankan women. Tea picking is hard work and at the same time it is low paid. In one day, a tea picker has to collect 35 kg of tea.

Tours to the tea plantations and factories are completely free, you only have to spend money for transport, but be prepared also, tea tastings are paid.

Nuwara Eliya is the highest tea plantation on the island. Tea here grows over 2,000 metres above sea level. The tea grown here is considered the most expensive and the entire crop is usually exported to European countries.

McWoods. This plantation is known all over the world as the plantation where real loose leaf tea is grown. We have all heard the phrase “English tea” more than once, but very few people think about where tea originated in England. For a long time, Sri Lanka was an English colony, and it was from the island that the best varieties of tea were exported to the British kingdom. To this day, Macwoods supplies tea to the Royal English Court.

Pedro Estate. This tea plantation is also considered a highland tea plantation and is located near Nuwara Eliya. Its distinctive feature is that the tea bushes are surrounded by huge trees that provide shade.

Bluefield. This is the most commercial tea plantation, which pays a lot of attention to attract tourists. There are cafes and restaurants and entertainment venues within the plantation.

Unawatuna. Only white tea is produced in this area. The harvesting process and the entire production process is quite complicated. The leaves are picked by tea-gatherers with gloves on, in the early morning hours, and only the youngest leaves at the top of the bush are picked.

Uda Pusselawa is a mountainous tea growing area but because of the monsoon winds which affect the tea plants, the tea is not very strong but still fragrant. Locals say that this is due to the rather high humidity in the area.

Sabaragamuwa. The locality is varied in its landscape. There are plains, mountains, hills, and highlands. The tea grown on these plantations varies in taste.

Dimbula. This plantation has high humidity and moderate temperatures that are very comfortable for the growth of tea bushes. The tea grown here has a golden colour, medium strength and a vibrant bouquet of aromas.

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Stages of tea production

After the tea is gathered by pickers, it is sent to the factory for the initial processing – drying. This process lasts on average 8-10 hours, during which time the leaves lose moisture.

The second stage of tea production is rolling. The process of rolling has not changed at all since the first bush was brought to the island.

The third stage is fermentation. During fermentation, the tea is sent to a cool room where it begins to ferment. The fermentation process can take anywhere from 3 minutes to a couple of hours. This depends on what kind of tea you want to get.

The fourth stage is drying. The leaves should be dried at 90-95 degrees to get the kind of black tea we’re used to.

Is it worth buying tea in Sri Lanka?

Our answer is definitely yes. Tea is sold everywhere: in local markets, in stalls near huts, at sea resorts, tea factories, just on the street. The best place to buy tea is near tea plantations and factories. If you are a good haggle with the sellers you can buy a real, aromatic tea for a couple of dollars.

Our advice to you, don’t trust the advice of salespeople, taste the tea, look at the leaf and only then make a purchase. We wish you a pleasant Ceylon tea experience!

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