Discovering the Tea Estates of Sri Lanka’s Rolling Hill Country
We have all heard of Ceylon Tea, the famous tea brand from Sri Lanka that takes its name from the island’s era under British colonial rule. Introduced to the country in 1867 by a British tea planter who began the country’s first tea plantation, tea exports from the country gained particular popularity in the 1970‘s. Today tea is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka and employs over one million people, directly and indirectly.
Meet Salinda Madugalle, a retired tea planter who will be sharing his stories about working on Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, where he spent decades gaining his experience.
Salinda began his planter’s career back in 1977, when tea exports from Sri Lanka really began to take off. With over 30 years’ experience in the tea fields as a planter, Salinda became one of the most respected consultants for tea estates in Sri Lanka’s hill country.
Now retired, but still with a burning passion for the tea business, Salinda keeps his memories alive with this fascinating tour that will take you on a plantation walk, punctuated with anecdotes and captivating stories of his life as a tea planter.
Walking through the stunning mist-covered mountains with stupendous views and hillsides carpeted with tea, you will learn from Salinda about the changes in the tea business and how the tea estates have evolved since his time.
Wondering along small trails among the tea bushes, you are also likely to meet some of the friendly local ladies plucking tea. Most of the workforce is still made up of Tamil women who live a hard life doing back-breaking work, though conditions have improved dramatically since the 19th century.
With so much experience working on the tea estates, Salinda is fluent in Tamil and will quickly strike up a conversation with locals and workers you meet along the way – recounting to you some of their stories about life on the tea estates.
Later, you can join Salinda for a private tea-tasting experience at your hotel where he will share his expertise on determining the qualities of different kinds of tea. As Salinda says his goodbyes, you will realize how much you have learned about a seemingly simple cup of char!