My Visit To Sri Lanka- Nuwara Eliya By Adam Founder of Charbrew
As I wrote about in my last blog, this summer I travelled to Sri Lanka to visit our tea manufacturers, explore tea plantations and enjoy all that Ceylon has to offer. Over the next few weeks I will be blogging about my travels, covering all the different aspects of Charbrew’s tea production as well showing you some of the other activities I got up to. In this blog I will be writing about my visit to Nuwara Eliya, one of the most important areas for tea production in Sri Lanka.
Known as Little England, this quaint Central Provincial town was ‘discovered’ by colonial Officer John Davy in 1819. On first appearance it felt like I had woken up in England; a cold misty climate, red telephone boxes, black and white cows and a golf course?
In earlier days Nuwara Eliya (meaning “City of Light”) was the favoured cool climate escape for the English and Scottish colonialists. The district was first discovered as a spot where English vegetables and fruit such as lettuce and strawberries could be successfully grown for consumption by the colonialists. Coffee was then one of the first crops that was grown there however around 1869 a fungus disease destroyed near 90% of the country’s coffee crop, the colonialist switched to tea. The first tea leaves harvested in Sri Lanka were planted in the mountains between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. As first experiments proved successful, the town found itself becoming the tea capital of Sri Lanka.
The first stop in this old colonial town was the Grand Hotel - for a cup of tea of course. Once the residence of Sir Edward Barnes, Governor of Sri Lanka from 1830 to 1850, this 120 year old building was a surreal setting giving a true ambience of Victorian times. With a menu boasting over 100 different teas this was a great start to a visit in Nuwara Eliya. The main reason I was in Nuwara Eliya was to visit a tea plantation, following my brief stop at the Grand Hotel, I carried onwards to the plantation and tea factory......
High above the town of Nuwara Eliya (and 5700 feet above sea level) Lover’s Leap Tea Estate is named after the tragic legend of two young lovers who leapt from the top of a picturesque waterfall on the estate. This is an area of outstanding beauty, where the crisp mountain air carries the fragrance of abundant cypress groves, eucalyptus and wild mint.
Lover’s Leap was the only estate which was owned by James Taylor, the pioneer tea planter who brought tea to Sri Lanka. A fantastic place to find out how it all started. James Taylor planted 17 acres of tea in 1886 in Loolecondera Estate Hewahata however, 200 Tea Plants were planted earlier in Naseby division of Lovers leap Estate in 1867. That was the earliest recorded planting of tea in Sri Lanka!!!
Upon my arrival I was welcomed by Mr Wilfred the production manager at the estate’s factory, I was taken into the welcome centre before my tour and was surprised to see pictures of the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Visit to the estate in 1954 covering the walls.
The Duke of Edingburgh's Visit to Lovers Leap In 1954
I was then taken on the tour of this old but very much operational 18th century factory. Through my tour, I discovered that some of the machinery used dates back to the 19th century.
To breifly explain the tea production process (which I will go into on a later blog)…after the leaves are picked from the tea bushes, they are received into the factory and withered over a warm fan until they have only 50% of their moisture. The tea leaves are then rolled, cut and heated to dry out the remaining moisture.
The dried tea leaves are then processed by a machine that sorts out the size of the leaves into different grades. All the Lovers Leap tea is then sent to Colombo tea auctions where they are purchased in bulk by manufacturers and global brokers (including our manufacturers).
All in all, the visit was a fantastic opportunity for me to visit the location of where the Sri Lankan tea industry first started and to experience the picturesque Nuwara Eliya.