Oh the cool, the cool

When choosing the Hill Country as part of the trip Rita and I were taking, little dd I know it would include one of the best nights sleep since my arrival to Sri Lanka nearly 9 months ago!  Ahhhh, the cool and tranquility of Hill Country, leaving the stifling heat and humidity of Colombo at this time of year, behind us – bliss!

Early morning shot of the veggie plot showing companion planting of carrots and leeks, at the gorgeous AirBnB we stayed at in Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya (pronounced new-ar-ail-ia) is in the Central Province of Sri Lanka and sits at a 6000 ft elevation, hence the cooler climate.  It’s perfect weather for tea plantations and for growing produce – it’s the market garden for Colombo, supplying much of the fresh fruit and veg to the city.

Tea is cultivated by the contour planting method, where the contours of the land are followed

At the recommendation of my friend and BIZ+ colleague Yohan, we stopped off at Blue Field tea plantation just outside of Nuwara Eliya, to check out how tea is grown.  We were keen to not only visit a factory where the tea is processes, but also spend a little time on the plantation itself, checking out the tea bushes themselves.  We got exactly that.

Blue Field Tea Plantation.  The 4-story building is the factory where the tea is processed

The tea plantation covers the hills behind the processing factory pictured above.  Black and white tea is grown, no green tea here.

The tea is hand-plucked (not picked!) primarily by women.  Sri Lanka is one of the few places where tea plucking is not mechanized, making the tea more pure and therefore of higher quality and more expensive.

Photo credit: Ceylon Tea Board

After plucking, the tea is dried for 12 hours, then rolled to improve the quality of the tea, after which it is fermented with the use of a hot furnace .  Point of Interest:  the Blue Field furnace was manufactured in Belfast at the turn of the last century believe it or not!

The leaves are further fired to protect the copper brown coloration, graded, weighed and then packed and shipped.

Drying the tea

As you can see it was a gorgeous blue-sky day at a balmy 28C when we visited Blue Field.  Such a peaceful, restful place.  Although the factory was in full swing, it was quite the relaxed atmosphere with many smiling (mostly) ladies.  Always makes me happy to see happy workers.

I particularly enjoyed understanding the tea processing process – yeah I know … more feeding of my geeky process tendencies.   And although an avid coffee drinker, I really enjoyed the cuppa afterwards!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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One Response to Oh the cool, the cool

  1. Pingback: Flooding in south-west Sri Lanka | Bowen to Bangladesh

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