Tea Plantations in Sri Lanka

If you’re drinking a cup of tea right now there’s a good chance it came from Sri Lanka, and most of it is grown in Nurawa Eliya.  The drive from Kandy to Nurawa Eliya is spectacular. We climbed through the thick jungle through narrow winding roads, finally arriving at one of the highest towns in Sri Lanka, at more than 1800 metres above sea level. Improbably clinging to the sides of the mountains you soon begin to see a sea of tea.  If you look more closely, you will also sea the hills are dotted with the pickers, dressed in colourful saris or cotton dresses with sacks fashioned as backpacks to collect the tea they were picking.

When the English came to Sri Lanka this mountainous area became a popular holiday spot, no doubt because of its cool climate and it would provide a respite to the English melting in the fierce tropical sun. This part of Sri Lanka is known as “little England” but I needn’t think the Cotswalds worry too much about the competition. It soon became a successful tea growing area.  It was first grown here in the late 1800s, and now provides more than 1 million jobs, and Sri Lanka is one of the world’s biggest providers of in the world. Not that the poor Tamil plantation workers are paid much. My driver and I stopped at the side of the road to take some photos of the tea and the workers, and he told me they are paid about 350 rupees per day. Given that $US1 is around 130 rupees it’s not much. They must love it when they are picking tea on the roadside and tourists stop to take their photos – they will gladly pose for a small fee, which I was happy to give. I do like a good cup of tea after all.


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