A holiday to Sri Lanka cannot be complete without experiencing tea. Not only is a holiday with a tea experience in Sri Lanka fascinating in its own right, it is part of the cultural heritage of the country. Most tailor-made holidays to Sri Lanka with Expressions feature a stay in the tea country. Ceylon tea was first planted in 1867 by James Taylor. The tea that was produced from these first plants was very popular and fetched a good price. Ceylon tea was soon grown on many of the hill slopes and by 1890 Ceylon tea production reached 22,900 tons. Sri Lanka is now the largest exporter of tea in the world with tea production employing 600,000 workers. It was actually coffee that was first introduced to the island by the British colonialists, but following a mysterious disease that destroyed the plants, they turned their attentions to tea. In Sri Lanka, tea grows from virtually sea level to 7,000 feet in six main tea producing districts, and 38 sub-districts. Due to the diverse agro-climatic conditions, each has its own distinctive tastes. The main tea-growing districts are:Kandy, the ‘low’ hill region at 2,500 feet or aboveNuwara Eliya, the highest area that produces the finest teas at 6000 feet or aboveDimbula and Dickoya, west central mountains - at 3,500 feet or aboveUva, located east of Dimbula at 2,800 feet or aboveThe low country tea growing areas, particularly Ratnapura and Galle, at elevations below 2,500 feet. Sri Lanka produces Ceylon tea which is characterized by its crisp, citrus aroma. There is a good variety thanks to the various altitudes and soil conditions where the tea is grown. The tea bushes are actually Camellia Sinensis, originating mostly from China. Ceylon black tea is the most famous and widely produced although other types include Ceylon green tea, Ceylon oolong tea and Ceylon white tea. There is also a fragile and rare Silver Tips white tea, where single buds are plucked early morning, producing a silver downy bud. Stay on a Tea EstateUp CountryCeylon Tea Trails, DickoyaOwned by the Dilmah tea family, the luxurious bungalows of The Norwood, Castlereagh, Summerville and Tientsin are all surrounded by tea estates. At an elevation of roughly 4,000 feet, they are positioned around Castlereagh Reservoir in the Bogawanthalawa Valley, the Golden valley of tea. A visit to a tea factory reveals how the leaves are dried and processed for the ‘single origin tea’ that Dilmah is famous for. Tea Trails’ resident Tea Planter, Andrew Taylor, will show you first hand the tea-making process, ending with a tasting of different grades of the great brew. Related to James Taylor, the tea pioneer, Andrew has devoted a lifetime career to the tea industry and we are fortunate that he now shares his passion with Tea Trails guests. Jetwing Warwick Gardens, AmbewelaA stay at Jetwing Warwick Gardens provides a magical insight into colonial life as a tea estate owner as well as the workings of a modern-day tea plantation and organic farm. Learn more about the tea production process on a walk around the tea estate and watch the tea-pluckers work their way along the tea bushes. It is possible to have tea with the tea pluckers in their village and visit a working tea factory. The Warwick Estate is in the Nuwara Eliya district, the highest tea producing area, and considered to produce the finest black Ceylon tea. Warwick Gardens serves a selection of the finest teas from the local area as well as from the other districts of Sri Lanka. Kirchhayn Bungalow, near BandarawelaThe tea served at Kirchhayn Bungalow is from the surrounding Senok Aislaby tea estate and it is delicious! You can learn more about tea production from the staff and walk around the tea estate. An interesting 45 minute walk will take you past the weighing shed for the tea, a Hindu temple and the village where the tea workers live. You see tea pluckers at work amongst the tea bushes from 7.30 am to 4 pm all year round. The estate is in Uva district at an altitude of roughly 1,200 metres.Ellerton Stay at Ellerton Bungalow in the Kandy area, and learn more about the tea production on Ellerton’s estate. The bungalow was built for the manager of a tea estate over 100 years ago and still retains the character and tranquillity of those colonial days. Low CountryKahanda KandaKahanda Kanda is set in its own tea estate so you can learn more about tea production right on your doorstep. Visits can be arranged to Handunugoda tea estate and factory (3 km away, renowned for its production of rare white tea. Its tea centre gives tastings of the different products. More Tea ExperiencesThe plantations around Nuwara Eliya are generally acknowledged to make the finest black Ceylon tea. Various tea estates and factories can be visited in the area whilst staying at the hotels in Nuwara Eliya, though you are not actually staying on an estate. Just outside Kandy, The Hantana Tea Factory and Hantana Tea Museum is a short drive from Amaya Hills Resort, or a 45 minute walk for the more energetic. Nature lovers will particularly enjoy the trek through jungle and tea plantations, amidst picturesque scenery. It is also close to Theva Residency. The Jetwing Hotel Group has created a special tea menu to offer guests at all of its properties, using teas supplied by Robert Wilson’s Ceylon teas. Run by two planters, one British, one Sri Lankan, they only source quality, single estate teas at the peak of each ‘quality’ season. The Jetwing Tea Menu reads like a wine list, outlining the origin, fanning process, taste and how to drink it, and a selection that includes organic teas, award-winners from Uva and Dimbula, ‘gunpowder’ tea and rare Silver Tips white tea.Holidays to all these regions and hotels can be tailored for you by Expressions Holidays. Call to speak to our Sri Lankan specialists for further help.
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