The Tea Experience in Nuwara Eliya

February 5th ~ Nuwara Eli

Terraced hills filled with tea plants


The effect of the Coronavirus has once again been felt. As we were driving out of Kandy this morning, Heshan asked our driver to stop so that we could take a photo of a massive, sprawling tree. The tree happened to be on the grounds of an elite University.

As soon as our guide stepped off of the bus, a security guard stopped him and refused to let anyone disembark. He said that due to health fears, the students were not allowing any outsiders on campus.

We had to settle for taking pictures from the bus. The picture is not particularly very good, and would under normal conditions never have made the blog, BUT, it is serving the purpose of illustrating how nervous some people are.

Large tree with many branches, taken from the bus

What I think is equally interesting is that the hotel we will be staying in tonight is where the tourist with the first case here in Sri Lanka stayed. She tested positive on the 22nd of January, 14 days prior to our visit which is the incubation period.

The hotel has been thoroughly scrubbed and is probably more clean than most hotels. Tim and I are not worried, but are finding all of this very interesting.

Today, travel to Nuwara Eliya via Ramboda with a stop at a Tea Estate and factory.

Picking Tea

Tea ready to be picked

Women are normally the ones who pick the tea because they have a softer touch. Upon arrival, each of the ladies is given a basket with a cloth band attached.  The band is placed across the forehead with the basket hanging down ones back.

We are then instructed on how to pick tea. We are to nip off the end three leaves plus the bud. We then walk a short distance up the side of the hill to where the tea trees are located. The trees are kept very short (about waist height) to make picking easier. They look more like bushes than trees.

Waist high tea bushes being picked by one of many women

We get to watch one of the workers demonstrate the correct way to pick. She made it look easy, picking several bundles and then neatly dropping them into the basket on her back.

This is what it is supposed to look like:

The woman instructing us, then sets a timer and challenges us to pick as many as we can, with the winner to receive a prize.

With the basket on my back, I’m ready to take on the challenge

Ready, set, go…

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Tea Factory

Next we move inside the factory where we learn about the growing and harvesting of tea. Since the previous day had been a National holiday, there was not any tea waiting to be processed. We did get to observe where the processing of the leaves, grading and packaging took place.

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The visit was ended with a sampling of different varieties of “Ceylon” teas.

We were encouraged to purchase our favorite. Instead of tea, I selected some hand lotion.

Continuing on our drive through tea country, I was awed by the beauty of the area. Hills covered in terraces with row after row of lush green tea plants. We were surrounded by breathtaking views of bright green rolling hills, meadows, mountains and rushing waterfalls.

Lush green hills

Mountain lake

After lunch, we proceeded to Nuwara Eliya.

A wonderful variety of food choices

This hill town was a popular 19th century resort and escape for the hard-working English and Scottish pioneers of Sri Lanka’s tea industry.

After checking in to our hotel, we once again meet up for our afternoon tour that began with a tuk tuk ride to the Old Church. No photography was allowed inside, but I slipped up. Upon seeing the signature of our friends who signed the guest book the previous week, I snapped a shot without thinking.

Holy Trinity Church

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Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel ~ won for best luxury gourmet hotel in Asia 2018

A cup of tea and the Grand Hotel, a quick tour through this once elegant estate, and a demonstration from the countries Snooker champion capped off the day.

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We did have a few minutes to shop in town and I was so excited to find the string hopper tool that was demonstrated the previous evening during the home visit.

Overnight: Nuwara Eliya

Our hotel room for one night

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I do not have to pick tea leaves for a living. I would starve to death. These poor women get paid only $6 per day. They are also provided housing.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in Asia, Sri Lanka and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Tea Experience in Nuwara Eliya

  1. Darlene says:

    I would love to visit a tea plantation as I love tea. What a great outing.


  2. joliesattic says:

    Neat. Food looks yummy. What an experience.
    Will the outbreak affect your return in any way that you know of?


  3. As an avid tea lover, I would love to see all of this. I guess you need to practice just a bit more to keep up with the tea picking woman. 🙂 Who won the prize and what was it? Inquiring minds want to know. I didn’t realize tea leaves were quite so large.

    Your hotel looks absolutely amazing!! As for the outbreak, my husband worries about it, as there’s someone in a nearby suburb who has it and all the people who admitted that person or dealt with that person are being tested.



  4. Peter Buller says:

    …perhaps they were just trying to ‘tea’s’ your cultivation skills out of you…
    Tradition does amuse me though because, as an avid tea drinker which I attribute to my English descent, it is still termed as Ceylon Tea, not Sri Lankan Tea, even though it has been close to half a century since the name change in 1972.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a tea drinker and I enjoyed seeing how it is grown and picked.The hotel looks fabulous!


  6. It’s great to see so much green while its still winter here in the States!


  7. Drinking tea while I was reading this. 🙂 It’s herbal instead of black or green tea, however. Coronavirus has got to be a little worrisome, even though you seem fairly relaxed about it. As it continues to get worse, as it seems to be doing, the hysteria will only get worse. –Curt


    • I remain in contact with a friend in China. I am concerned for his safety. On our tour, everyone has been reminded to be diligent with washing hands. Hand sanitizer is sprayed on every passengers hands each time before we get on the bus. I am probably more concerned about going to the airport this evening and the two flights home a airplanes are notorious for spreading germs.


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