A Guide to Sri Lankan Tea Country

Tea plantations aren't just a signature of Sri Lanka; many offer gorgeous views of vast, open greenery
Tea plantations aren't just a signature of Sri Lanka; many offer gorgeous views of vast, open greenery | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy
Photo of Jayani Senanayake
22 September 2021

Acres and acres of jade expanses are crowned with bright green leaves. Meanwhile, dots of tea pluckers decorate the sloping, misty hills. This is the breathtaking tea country of Sri Lanka. Famous the world over for the fragrant beverage, when you next visit the country, make sure you visit these tea plantations for a memorable experience.

© Luka Tambaca / Alamy

Tea in Sri Lanka can be categorised as high-grown tea, mid-grown tea and low-grown tea. The high-grown tea is grown at an elevation of over 1,800m (6,000ft); it’s light in colour, delicate in taste and found in Nuwara Eliya. Mid-grown tea, stronger in colour and flavour, can typically be found in the Kandy, Matale, and Bogawanthalawa areas. Low-grown tea is cultivated in the south of Sri Lanka, mostly in the Galle area, yielding strong, robust teas with a strong aroma.

How to Visit Tea Plantations

The central region of the country hides some of the most scenic tea plantations. As you travel into the hills your eyes will feast on the dark green foliage, beautifully laid out across the misty mountains. Travel by train to capture the best views and vistas, and also to mingle with the locals for a truly Sri Lankan experience. Take the bus or hire your own private vehicle to the tea estates, but be warned: the roads are rocky and four-wheel-drive is often needed.

© Jane Sweeney / Alamy

Where to Visit

In the Nuwara Eliya area, the Mackwoods Labukeliya Factory, Blue Field Tea Factory and Pedro Tea Factory are great choices. There, you can embark on educational tours to see how the tea is made. If you are more interested in visiting a low-country tea estate, the Handungoda Estate offers a unique experience for tea-lovers. Unique vistas spread over scenic estates. Personalised tea tours as well as the chance to experience a cup of delicious Ceylon tea are on the cards here, all while you’re surrounded by the gorgeous tea plantations.

© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy

Where to Stay

Ceylon Tea Trails

Ceylon Tea Trails_df87e6e4
Courtesy of Ceylon Tea Trails / Expedia

True tea-lovers will enjoy staying at Ceylon Tea Trails, an estate bungalow built in the 1800s and located in the Bogawantalawa Valley. It comes with Swiss-trained butlers, curious antiques and a planter-in-residence.

Kahanda Kanda

Kahanda Kanda
Courtesy of Kahanda Kanda / Expedia

For a low-grown tea experience, the beautifully tropical Kahanda Kanda is an ideal way of roaming around the estates. It sprawls across the hills just outside Galle, and the tea there is exported as far away as Russia and Iraq.

These recommendations were updated on September 22, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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