A Blend of Tea and Culture: Tours and Guides in Sri Lanka

The best way to see the beautiful tea plantations of Sri Lanka is by going on a tour or hiring a guide
The best way to see the beautiful tea plantations of Sri Lanka is by going on a tour or hiring a guide | © Suranga Weeratuna / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Melissa Pearce
2 September 2021
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Sri Lanka is the fourth largest tea producer in the world. Tea plantations were introduced to the teardrop island in 1867 by the British, who wanted to compete with China. Sri Lanka now produces some of the finest teas in the world, from single origins to mixed fruit blends. See the process in action with these top tea tours and guides in Sri Lanka.

Sammy Tours

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A tailor-made, private and personal tour is the treatment Sammy Tours delivers. Combining local knowledge with flexibility, Sammy will accommodate small groups, from individual travellers up to a group of eight. As a guide, he will recommend some of the best places to go across the island and simultaneously cater for your personal wishes by allowing you to guide the path of his air-conditioned mini-bus and decide for yourself the places to visit. Included in his tours are trips to some of the oldest tea factories in Sri Lanka, with a walk through the fields followed, of course, by that all important cup of tea.

Rickshaw Travel

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Providing visitors with specialized knowledge of Sri Lanka, Rickshaw Travel guides you through the best parts of the tea hills via car, train and jeep, allowing you to engage with the mesmerizing surroundings. This three-day tour provides an insight into the tea making history of Sri Lanka by visiting the old tea factories and exploring the process behind Ceylon tea. This is before a walk around Horton Plains National Park, one of the top national parks in Sri Lanka and an example of the natural beauty of Nuwara Eliya. An early start ensures you see the landscapes at their best, while a picnic breakfast in the World’s End gorge is a definite highlight.

Halpewatte Tea Factory

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This day tour gives you a look into how the newer factories function. Halpewatte Tea Factory specialises in producing some of the finest single origin tea in Sri Lanka and has been doing so for the past 35 years. The factory stands as one of the largest tea factories in the region of Uva. They responsibly promote sustainability through their tea production, in addition to their engagement with tourism in the areas of Bandarawela and Ella. With knowledgeable staff, Halpewatte gives you a glance into the bustling and varied work of growing tea for the rest of the world to enjoy. You can now visit with Culture Trip as part of our specially curated small-group Sri Lanka tour.

Hundungoda Tea Estate

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For those with a little less time, the Hundungoda Tea Estate gives you an opportunity to visit a tea plantation a little more quickly. During the tour you will be led by an experienced guide who will introduce you to the process of growing and harvesting, while providing in depth information about Sri Lankan tea culture. In addition to the tea tour, the estate is home to cinnamon plantations with luxury bungalow accommodation for those who care to stay longer. Luxury SUVs are available to those requiring a lift to the plantation and a tour will typically last around one hour. There’s also a golf course and a tea museum.

Boutique Sri Lanka

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Offering a selection of suggested itineraries, Boutique Sri Lanka provides bespoke tours for visitors who want to pick and choose the highlights of the trip. They present a comprehensive range of itineraries, from plantation trails to colonial tea tours, unfolding the history of tea production in Sri Lanka. They will also assist you with booking flights and organising a driver for your trip.

Sri Lanka ‘Tea Trails’ Tour

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The five-day Tea Trails tour combines Sri Lankan culture and nature. As soon as you arrive, your chauffeur and guide will be on hand to answer any questions before taking you to Kandy, with a detour to the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela, home to 80 elephants. While in Kandy, take the chance to watch a cultural dance performance. You’ll then be whisked off to Nuwara Eliya, where the cool climate provides the perfect environment for tea growing.

Bluefield Tea Gardens

For an in-depth day exploring the Sri Lankan tea-making process, head to Bluefield Tea Gardens. Bluefield offer personalised tours through their farm, providing in-depth guides and descriptions of all the stages behind tea production. The Tea Center in Nuwara Eliya is also a good place to purchase some of the best quality teas from the region, while the beautiful property also has a restaurant and cafe at the front. If you’re travelling with kids, there’s a children’s play area.

Green Holiday Travels

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Since 2011, Green Holiday Travels has been organising professionally planned tours for visitors to Sri Lanka. Keen to introduce tourists to the rich culture of the country without negatively impacting on its nature and heritage, they are forward thinkers in sustainable tourism for the island. Their six-day Hills and Tea Plantations tour will guide you through all the hot spots of the country’s tea production, while also stopping at cinnamon gardens in Colombo, the Dutch Church of Wolfendhal and the captivating landscape of Kitulgala.

Heritage Expediciones

For those serious about tea, Heritage provide flexible week-long trips with their Tea Educational Tours. The tour takes you to a number of interesting places such as the Colombo Tea Auctions. These auctions, which have been running since 1883, take place twice weekly within the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. Here you will see 700 factories trading and buying and you will also witness the largest single origin tea auction in the world. Visits to all the major tea centers such as Giragama, Balangoda, Mlesna and Dilmah are included, as well as a look at the Hantana Tea Museum. The final day is one of rest; the relaxation method is your choice, whether it be seaside or poolside.

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