One of the best ways, besides walking, to explore the tea country is by hopping on to a train! You’ll ride through green mountain slopes covered with tea gardens, which look like a lush green canopy. Leaving from Hatton, the red train slithers slowly through magnificent green hills. The sunrays of the dawn illuminate the tea plantations: enjoy the show!
The Legacy of Sri Lankan Tea
The train stops at Nanu Oya station, near Nuwara Eliya. You can really feel the British legacy here with well looked after gardens of tomatoes, salads and strawberries and plenty of mansions belonging to British governors. In 1867, coffee plantations were devastated by a disease and planters had to revert to tea instead, which turned out to be much more sustainable and quite profitable. Nowadays Sri Lanka is the third largest tea producer in the world and the largest exporter. Sri Lanka offered ideal conditions in terms of climate and altitude for such a success story.
Sri Lanka Tea Pluckers
While riding through the hills you will surely be able to spot tea pluckers who originally came from South India, plucking tea leaves at an incredible speed. They manage to gather at least 20 kg of tea leaves per day!
The Final Touches
These leaves are then left to dry for about 16 to 18 hours, losing moisture and a lot of weight in the process. Then they are steamed and oxidized, which allow the leaves to develop their rich and sought after flavour. This green gold is then carefully selected, packed and auctioned to international bidders in Colombo.