Tea Plantations in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon) has a climate and varied elevation that allows for the production of tea. The plant that gives the amazing green scenery, wherever you see in the elevated territories. In this article, we’ll review the best tea plantations in Sri Lanka.

About the tea production in Sri Lanka

Tea production is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka, and accounts for 2% of GDP. Contributing over US$1.3 billion in 2021 to the economy of Sri Lanka. It employs, directly or indirectly, over 1 million people. In 1995 directly employed 215,338 on tea plantations and estates. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth-largest producer of tea. In 1995, it was the world’s leading exporter of tea (rather than producer), with 23% of the total world export, and Sri Lanka ranked second on tea export earnings in 2020 after China. The highest production of 340 million kg was recorded in 2013.

The humidity, cool temperatures, and rainfall of the country’s central highlands provide a climate that favors the production of high-quality tea. On the other hand, tea produced in low-elevation areas such as Matara, Galle and Ratanapura districts with high rainfall and warm temperature has high level of astringent properties. The tea biomass production itself is higher in low-elevation areas. Such tea is popular in the Middle East. Sri Lanka produces mostly orthodox black teas but also produces CTC, white and green teas.

Main export destinations of the Sri Lanka tea

The most important foreign markets for Sri Lankan tea are the former Soviet bloc countries of the CIS, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UK, Egypt, Libya and Japan.

How to move around the tea fields?

We have been using our own tuk-tuk to move around. The road conditions are not good and there are some parts, where it can seem indeed really scary. It’s a pity, as the giant tea factories could at least provide the workers with a proper road to reach their workplace. Instead of that, you need to approach many of the estates on roads from the 18th century, without any renovation. Be prepared, the road is full of holes, missing parts, that makes the ride very challenging.

Lipton’s Seat

Lipton’s Seat is located in the highlands of Sri Lanka 7km from the small tea plantation town of Dambatenne. From there, there is a small road that goes way up through the tea plantations to the viewpoint. At the viewpoint we can find Lipton’s Seat, too. It is so named because the famous Scottish baron and tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton used it as the seat to survey his empire in a time long gone but not forgotten. Also at the viewpoint, there is a small restaurant where you can purchase tea and other local Sri Lankan foods. During the months of April to October, the area around Lipton’s Seat is subject to midday fog that could completely ruin your view. This fog can also occur in other months, so it’s all about your luck.

Where to spend the night around the tea fields?

Besides the most famous (and touristy) Ella and Haputhale, we would recommend Nuwara Eliya. It’s much calmer, nature-wise even more beautiful, and much less spoiled. We found here this amazing place: Atulya Villas Nuwara Eliya, with super welcoming owners. The place is really high standard for a very reasonable price. Highly recommended!

Best experiences on the tea fields in Sri Lanka

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