A Ceylon Tea Adventure with your Family
While touring through the stunning island nation of Sri Lanka, you may want to experience the nation’s most treasured export – tea! From the undulating hills of Kandy to the misty mountains of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka is home to hundreds of thousands of acres of lush tea plantations, which contributes to the livelihoods of 4.5 percent of the population and in turn powers a major part of the Sri Lankan economy.
Planning your trip through the island to cover its major tea-centric regions is a great way of getting to learn the culture, with plenty of opportunities to catch nearby family attractions. So if you’d like to get an intimate look at the intricate workings of this major aspect of Sri Lankan culture, here are a couple of places you should add to your tour of this tea-nation.
High-Grown Teas of Nuwara Eliya
Depending on the climate and elevation of the plantations, the range of flavours produced by the tea plants can widely vary. In the enchanting hills of Nuwara Eliya, where tea is grown at altitudes of more than 6,000 feet above sea level and temperatures can dip down to as low as 5 degrees Celsius, tea plants grow much slower than in warmer climates and with smaller leaves. However, they produce some of the finest teas on the island. There are plenty of tea factories in the area to choose from, such as the Bluefield Tea Factory or Pedro Tea Estate, and they’ll take you on a tour of how they sort and dry tea leaves to produce this nationally-loved beverage, using machines that are over a century old.
Of course, if you’re moving through Nuwara Eliya, there’s plenty of other attractions to keep you and your family entertained. You could head for Horton Plains National Park, which is an hour south of Nuwara Eliya. The hike should be easily managed by the entire family, and you can trek up to World’s End for some stunning views of the surrounding country. You could also opt to arrive in Nuwara Eliya via train, which will take you through stunning views of lush green hills. Finally, you can visit a waterfall such as Laxapana Falls, the 8th-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.
Mid-Grown Teas of Kandy
Besides being famous for its ancient city, Kandy is also known for its flavourful mid-grown teas. Like Nuwara Eliya, the taste of teas here varies with altitude and climate. Teas grown at lower elevations produce larger leaves and stronger flavours, while teas at higher elevations yield smaller leaves and more delicate flavours. Kandy’s teas are grown at elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level, and is said to produce its best tea in cooler, dryer weather, which tends to be in the first few months of the year. Tea estates that you can visit include Ceylon Estate Teas and the Kadugannawa Tea Factory. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Ceylon Tea Museum to learn more about how the beverage made its way to the island.
If you’re spending the night in Kandy, there’s plenty of other things to see in the area that you won’t want to miss. The Kingdom of Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated as such largely due to the presence of the Sri Dalada Maligawa – the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Make sure that you and your family are respectfully dressed when visiting the temple, and you’ll be glad that you chose to visit this key part of Sri Lankan history. You can also pop by the Royal Botanical Gardens or the Udawattekele Sanctuary for your fill of the area’s greenery and wildlife.
Low-Grown Teas of the Southern Province
These teas grow at an elevation of about 2,000 feet above sea-level, and enjoy exposure to plenty of sunshine with warm and wet weather. The flavours of these teas are stronger than those grown at higher altitudes, and are mainly consumed as black tea.
The tea plantations in the southern parts of Sri Lanka don’t receive the same level of attention as its relatives grown at higher elevations, but they are a key part of tea-production on the island. If you’re relaxing by the beaches on the southern coast and would like to take a day to explore its tea-producing territories, head for a plantation like the Handunugoda Tea Estate. It’s very close to beach towns like Mirissa and Unawatuna, and makes for a great family outing when you need a break from the sand.