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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!