Coffee was the main crop in Sri Lanka until the 1860s when a fungal infection wiped out the crops and tea started to be grown instead. Most of the tea gardens in Sri Lanka are between 3,000 and 8,000 feet elevation in the southwest of the island, in the Galle district and to the east of Colombo. In the steamy foothills and plains tea plants flourish and can be picked throughout the year. There’s plenty going on in December and in fact tea production and cropping never stops. There are plenty of comprehensive tours of the great tea estates on this beautiful island, with professional guidance and information on the entire process of tea production. Here’s our pick of the best places to stay in Sri Lanka
This and nearby estates are owned and run by the Dilmah tea family and is located in the ‘Golden Valley of Tea’, the Bogawanthalawa Valley, at an altitude of 4,000 feet. Tours include talks on all aspects of tea production here and guided trekking of the surrounding estates. Tours are available in December with prices starting at £218 for single bungalow accommodation, up to £400 for triple. For more check out their website.
Warwick Gardens is 45 minutes’ drive from the town of Nuwara Eliya, a hill station in the highland plains, and is renowned as being home to some of the best tea production on the island. Tours are available until mid-December and accommodation starts at around £200 for a single room. As with most tours of tea plantations here, a guest lecturer/guide will take visitors through all the stages of tea manufacture. For more information visit their website.
Located near Bandarawela, Kirchayn Bungalow is located in the heart of the Senok Aislaby tea estate, at 1,200 metres. 45 minute tours are available, when visitors can see tea-picking all year round between 7.30am and 4.00pm. Accommodation is available starting at £1,700 for 7 nights. The accommodation comes with full English or Continental breakfast and a packed lunch, along with evening meals. Check out the website for more information.
Kahandara Kara is located in the centre of its own tea estate and visitors can learn all about the production of tea here literally on the doorstep of their accommodation. There are also visits to the nearby tea estate and factory at Handunugoda, where the renowned white tea is produced, along with tastings of various other tea-related products. Bungalow accommodation is available at £1,500 for 7 nights. Visit their website for more information.