My adventure in Sri Lanka continues. I’ve spent the last few days in the chilly hill county towns of Ella & Nuwera Eliya (& getting between the two was a real treat). This is tea country – the first tea leaves harvested in Sri Lanka were planted in the hills between Nuwera Eliya & Kandy & today Nuwere Eliya is the chilly tea capital of the fourth largest tea producing country in the world. Over the past few days I have taken two tea plantation factory tours, neither of which allowed photography, which was a real shame given the decades-old rituals, facilities & equipment still used in the production of tea in this country. I’ve also seen dozens more plantations, either meandering through them in the hills over Ella or from the train en route from Ella to my present location of Nuwera Eliya.
Situated at around 2,000 metres above sea level (I’m in long sleeves for the first time in Sri Lanka) and surrounded by lush tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya, once a pleasure retreat of the European planters, is billed as somewhere very British, a little piece of England in the chilly hills of central Sri Lanka. However, and the proliferation of landscaped gardens, tea & scone shops & English-style bungalows aside, it still looks very Sri Lankan to me. This is the country’s main highland hill resort and it has been the capital of Sri Lanka’s lucrative tea industry every since tea’s introduction to the country in 1867. The region offers many activities – golfing, horse riding, boating, hiking – but right now I’m off to warm up with a cuppa.