“Downwind of the island, one can smell cinnamon eight leagues out to sea,” a Dutch captain reported of Sri Lanka in the 18th century. Perhaps this was poetic license, but it is true that Sri Lanka has long been famed for its cinnamon, and this coveted spice has led to many wonderful stories, wild claims and even wars over the centuries. More recently, its health benefits are becoming accepted by modern science and its unique aroma puts it among the world’s favorite spices.
True cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka and is still known across the world as Ceylon cinnamon, the name under which it rose to fame between the 16th – 19th centuries. Cinnamon grows as a bush and goes through a complicated process to get to the products we find in shops. The bark is harvested at dawn, peeled and then carefully rolled into quills, whilst the leaves are dried and the essential oil extracted by steam-distillation. These techniques combine age-old skills fine-tuned with modern technology and are a completely self-sustaining process.
Here, in the heart of cinnamon country, you will learn about the history of Ceylon cinnamon and about the techniques of cinnamon production. You will also visit the plantation house for refreshments and gain an impression of the life of an expatriate cinnamon farmer.
Arriving at the 25-acre estate, you will meet the British owner and the Sri Lankan estate manager who will be your guides. With transport by tractor/trailer, they will guide you through the nursery, plantation, peeling hut and artisan oil distillery. This is a working plantation and you will see – and have a go for yourself if you wish – all the stages of harvesting, cinnamon quill preparation and essential oil extraction. After the tour, you will be driven up to the plantation house for refreshments and to enjoy the view from the hill top. There is also a hosted lunch on offer for those who want to make a longer day of it and enjoy the surroundings. For those who would like to experience a day in the life of a cinnamon farmer at first hand, there is the option of an overnight stay (and an early start!).