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A visit to a tea factory in the tea country

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Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea with a roaring tea industry that dominates the island’s central highlands. Introduced to the country by British tea planter James Taylor in 1867, tea irreversibly changed the topography, and even the demography of the country. In the wake of Sri Lanka’s coffee blight, British planters were quick to discover that tea was a more lucrative industry. As the number of tea estates rose, there was an increased need for human labor. The production of tea involves a tedious procedure of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying – a process that requires heavy machines and plenty of manpower. Workers were shipped over from Tamil Nadu in India to maintain the plantations, and these people, an often overlooked ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, are still the main employees in the tea industry today. A visit to a tea factory has become a staple of every Sri Lanka travel itinerary, and for good reason! If you look past the crowds of tourists and the sometimes amusingly gimmicky tea tours on offer, you’ll find a fascinating subject matter – the epic story of the tea industry, a central theme to the story of not only Sri Lanka, but also the post-industrialized world.

Experience Overview

Tea tourism has been long-established in Sri Lanka and almost every tea factory offers a tea tour of some sort. The tours don’t take too long and can be done en route whilst you are travelling through the tea country. Your guide can help you pick out a suitable tea factory based on your route or preferences. Once in the tea factory, you would generally start out in the plantation itself to learn about how tea is cultivated, then visit the factory where ancient machines pre-dating the industrial revolution wither, roll and dry the tea. There is normally a little time at the end of the tour for a tea tasting, either of one specific type of tea or occasionally of the various specialties of that particular factory. Much like a wine tasting, a traditional tea tasting would involve drinking tea (without milk), swilling it around the mouth to get the taste, and then spitting it out into a spittoon. A few tea factories stick to these traditional methods, although the spittoon method is not so popular these days! Some of the larger tea factories can get extremely crowded with tourists so do be prepared for the fact that this is a very touristic experience, but entrance costs are usually nominal or free, and it’s definitely worth your time to pay a visit, even if only to get a chance to see the antique machines at work. If you would prefer a slightly more private tailored experience, this can be arranged by your travel consultant.

Includes:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Includes:

Entrance to tea factory and any teas offered in the visit

Excludes:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Excludes:

tips

Timings:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Timings:

tea factories are usually open from 10-5

Duration:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Duration:

Approximately 30-40 minutes

Difficulty:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Difficulty:

easy

Suitable for children:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Suitable for children:

Very young children probably won’t follow the descriptions of how tea is processed but they will enjoy seeing the machines in action.

Important to know:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Important to know:

It can be noisy and dusty inside the factory. Tea Factories are usually closed on Sundays.

What to wear or bring along:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
What to wear or bring along:

There is no need to take any specific clothing.

Private or not?  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Private or not?

This experience is usually private but there will be other people at the factory and you may be asked if it’s ok for you to join another group.

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Managing Expectations

It is important to remember that, whilst they are experts in their field, the people who run or host our experiences are not necessarily used to working in the tourism industry and may not offer the level of service you would find at a five-star hotel. For example, instead of a formal lecture, you may get a relaxed conversation where open discussion is encouraged. All of our hosts are, however, extremely engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about educating visitors about their chosen subject and we have worked with them to ensure that they deliver worthwhile, fulfilling experiences. We welcome feedback, so please let us know what you thought and if you think any improvements could be made to the experiences we offer.

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Get in touch with one of our knowledgeable travel experts to plan your Sri Lanka journey.