A tour of the tea plantations in Sri Lanka is one of the most important things to do while traveling in Sri Lanka. Renowned throughout the world, Ceylon teas are produced in the heart of the country, in the mountainous regions of the center of the island. Here, rice fields and spice gardens rub shoulders with plantations and tea factories.
- 1 Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Which route to choose?
- 2 Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Nuwara Eliya
- 3 Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Ella
- 4 Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Haputale
- 5 Tips for visiting Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Which route to choose?
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka are numerous and are mainly concentrated in the center of the island. You can choose to visit only one or to spend 4 or 5 days there, from region to region. It all depends on your desires and the time you want to devote to it. They are all easily accessible by train: For example, you can do Kandy-Nuwara Eliya then Nuwara Eliya-Ella then Ella-Haputale. The journey through eucalyptus forests and rice fields will be nothing but magical and scenic. The train journey from Ella to Nuwara Eliya notably offers magnificent panoramas.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of tea. This is because it meets many of the requirements to grow it. Especially, during the 19th and 20th centuries, the island’s economy was based on the production and export of different products. Like for example: cinnamon, rubber and tea, with the trademark as Ceylon tea.
The conditions for tea silver are: a tropical or subtropical climate, rain and altitude. Many plantations are found at an altitude of more than 1,500 meters, causing slower growth but with intensely flavored leaves.
From the plantations to the cup
In the tea plantations it can be seen that the collectors of the leaves are women and they dress in bright colors. This is because they are Tamil, meaning their ancestors come from India. They are in charge of collecting the three upper leaves of the plant and putting them in a basket that they carry on their backs.
The leaves are then taken to the factory to remove the moisture and ferment. They are also passed through a cylinder to catalyze and a cooking chamber to avoid other chemical reactions.
To get to Ella, one of the best options is undoubtedly the train that connects this city with Kandy. The journey lasts about seven hours, but it can also be shorter if you go directly to one of the stations, such as Nuwara Eliya. The train will allow us to delve into the Tea Route in a very authentic way.
The trains are the ones that were used at the time that Sri Lanka was an English colony, they built the railway network to better transport the tea.
Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada is a 2,243 meter high mountain with 5,200 steps. It is also a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The reason is that, at the top, there is a rock in the shape of a footprint. Some say that it is the footprint of Adam, others of Shivá, of Buddha or of Saint Thomas.
The path takes about 3 or 4 hours and usually starts at dawn to reach the top at dawn. Upstairs there is a temple in honor of Buddha.
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya and its tea plantations are an essential stopover when visiting Sri Lanka. In the train, as you sink deeper into the mist of the mountains in the center of the island, the temperature drops (Nuwara Eliya is located at 1900 meters above sea level) Remember to take warm clothes, especially in the early evening or in the morning. The road is long but deserved: Each bend reveals more beautiful landscapes than the previous ones: eucalyptus forests, rivers, tea plantations as far as the eye can see, waterfalls…. In the middle of the tea plantations, the pickers with their huge bags on their backs form a picturesque picture. In Sri Lanka, picking is manual and carried out exclusively by Tamil women.
Besides the tea plantations, which you can see from afar, you can also visit a tea factory. There are several in Nuwara Eliya. That of Mackwoods Labookellie, for example, offers you a free tour to learn all about tea, from harvesting to drinking. At the end of the visit, go to the tea room to taste the said concoctions.
Glenloch Tea Factory is also a plant where stopping is advised. It dates from 1867 and produces nearly 1500 kilos of tea per day. A factory that like all tea factories in Sri Lanka seems frozen in time.
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Ella
Ella too is a well-known tea area with gigantic farms in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Halpewatte Tea Factory is one of the must-see plantations and factories in Ella. It is about 2km from the center. During your visit, the different stages of tea making will be explained to you: harvesting, sorting, drying, different types of tea… We recommend that you go there by tuk-tuk and walk back down, surrounded by plantations. .
Mandalay Council : During your day in Ella, take the opportunity to discover Little Adam’s Peak, Adam’s Peak’s little brother. The view there is splendid.
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka: Haputale
Haputale is the essential region to discover the tea plantations in Sri Lanka. Less touristy than Ella and even more surrounded by tea plantations than Nuwara Eliya, Haputale is a destination of choice for many travelers. There are several plantations in Haputale including Lipton Seat and Dambatenne. Lipton Seat is the best known. But his rise is deserved. You have to get there very early in the morning and be at the top by 8 am at the latest because the area is very quickly covered with clouds. Lipton’s Seat offers a magnificent 360 degree panorama of mountains and tea plantations. It is from this place that the Scottish Sir Lipton liked to drink his tea in the morning.
The planting of Dambatenne is also not to be missed. Its factory (which dates from 1890) allows you to discover the process of making tea but also the period machines that are still in use.
Mandalay Council : From Ella, take a tuk-tuk to Haputale and see several tea plantations in the light of day. From there, you will admire the Tamil pickers and the plantations both on the way up and on the way down.
Tips for visiting Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya is located in the highest part of Sri Lanka, situated at an altitude of 2,500 meters on top of Mount Pidurutalagala . It is important to know that the temperature drops a lot compared to the rest of the places to see in Sri Lanka, so as a recommendation to visit Nuwara Eliya, put a fleece or something with long sleeves in your suitcase.
It was the area with the most influence of British colonization, and in fact it was known as Little England. And no wonder, with the cool and rainy weather, the English were at home.
💡 If you want to know more about the area, you can book a 1-day private tour online that will take you to see the Hanuman Temple, the tea plantation, the Ramboda waterfalls, Lake Gregory and Victoria Park.
Things to do in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is just one long street that crosses the town from start to finish. And although it is a small city, you can find a lot of commerce in it.
If you want to buy mountain clothing, there are stores selling brands made in Sri Lanka, which in Europe and the United States are worth up to 4 times more.
Other places worth getting lost in, if you like to enjoy less touristy places are:
- the local market
- The bus station full of small shops, hairdressers.
Where to stay: Recommended hotels
Araliya Green Hills
Our hotel in Nuwara Eliya. With a heated pool, which is greatly appreciated for the temperature of the area, and very close to the town on foot. Dinner and breakfast buffet, great.
Heaven Seven Boutique
If you don’t have space in the previous one or it doesn’t suit you, another option with very good opinions and score on Booking.
And now that you have all the information to organize the trip and visit Nuwara Eliya and the tea plantations in Sri Lanka , all you have to do is enjoy it to the fullest when the time comes