A visit to the virgin white tea factory – Koggala
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: 30 minutes from Galle Fort lies the Handunugoda Tea Estate, perhaps the closest tea plantation in the world to the sea. However, this is not the only thing that makes the Handunugoda Tea Estate special. The estate is known as the Virgin White Tea Factory – it produces a white tea completely untouched by human hands. The process of tea plucking follows an ancient Chinese Ritual where the choicest of teas were cut by virgins who never touched the tea with their bare skin and offered the resulting produce up as a tribute to the Emperor. Handunugoda mimics this tradition, although these days the ‘virgin’ concept only applies to the tea, not the tea pluckers! This white tea is rich in anti-oxidants and is said to be the healthiest tea in the world. Coincidentally it is also one of the most expensive teas in the world fetching at over 1500 USD per kilo. According to the latest testing Virgin White has an anti-oxidant content of 10.11 percent, which is said to be the highest naturally occurring content of anti-oxidants in any beverage. Marriage Freres which is perhaps one of the world’s most exclusive Tea Salons situated at Faubourg Saint Honore in Central Paris offers its exquisite client Handunugoda’s virgin White tea.
EXPERIENCE DESCRIPTION: A resident tea planter will meet you and take you around the private paradise of a working tea plantation. The plantation, which lies at sea-level, is the famed Handunugoda Tea Factory founded by Herman Gunaratne. Herman (or a team member) will take you on a private tour of his Virgin White Tea Estate plantations, where you will learn how the famous white tea is plucked and made into one of the best teas in the world. The visit ends with a tasting session and a piece of chocolate cake! There is also a small shop where you can buy Virgin White Tea – and other less expensive options as well.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS: Each person has different preconceptions of what to expect based on their unique experiences. We at Sri Lanka In Style know that we succeed when we exceed expectations in unexpected ways. We also know that in the travel world you’re as good as your last meal so to speak. Things change, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Your feedback is very important – we value your feedback tremendously, we use it to help make things better and to manage the expectations of other travelers. Here’s some of the feedback we have received which might help manage your expectations:
• There may be others visiting the plantation at the same time. If Herman is around and conducting talks on the day you visit it is well worth hearing the story from the man himself even if it is with others.
• This visit can be combined with a visit to a cinnamon plantation and a cinnamon inspired lunch at a nearby boutique hotel. It works well because the Tea Experience would start at 9.30 AM and the Cinnamon Experience would start at 11.30 AM. The Tea and Cinnamon Plantations are just 3km away from each other.
Includes: A factory visit and tea tasting
Duration: Approx. 1.5 hours
Suitable for children: Small children won’t follow, but they can play in the garden which is very safe and the local staff will keep an eye on them. Children who are a little older will enjoy learning about the process, particularly in the Tea Factory which has lots of noisy machines.
Meeting Time: 9.30 am at Handunugoda Tea Estate. The travel time from Galle is approximately 30 minutes.
What to wear or bring along: Cool, light clothing, hat, sun cream.
Private or not?: There may be other people visiting the Tea Plantation at the same time.