Ceylon Tea

May 25, 2011

Tea signs in Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

Ceylon has always been associated with tea, and it seems that this connection goes more than skin deep. Everywhere you go in Sri Lanka there are signs and placards advertising tea to tourists and locals alike. These are some picutres we took in the South.

Advertisements

Tea in India

May 11, 2011

No photos this time I’m afraid. My camera, which has suffered weeks of abuse at the beach, the bar and bazaar, had finally had enough. No matter…

Sri Lanka is only separated from India by a few kilometres of sea at the closest point, but they feel worlds apart. We arrived in Chennai airport almost a week ago and have been mixing exploring the Tamil Nadu region with a bit of voluntary work in the Christian Missionary hospital in Vellore. Compared to Sri Lanka it’s hot, dry, dusty, dirty and overpopulated. There’s a lot more poverty evident here, and many people live without basic sanitation, or even a roof over their heads.

As in our country, tea is one of the great social unifiers here. Everyone from the maids and rickshaw drivers to the wealthiest businessmen start their day with a cup of chai. At the hospital canteen where we have breakfast it’s served piping hot in two small metal cups, the contents of which you transfer backwards and forwards to cool it. The doctors, nurses, cooks and cleaners make this look very easy but to the uninitiated like ourselves the result is usually several burnt fingers and a big mess.

Last weekend we explored Pondicherry, an old French settlement to the South, and next weekend we’ve booken tickets to an IPL match – India’s new 20-20 cricket premier league – in Bangalore. Cricket is probably overtaking tea as a national obsession so it will be fascinating to experience it first hand.

Hopefully we’ll have mended/replaced our dying camera by then…

5am start to see sunrise over Sri Lankan tea plantations

Unreliable internet access has meant we’ve been unable to blog as regularly as we would have liked. Now we’re in back Colombo to watch the Royal Wedding so here’s a little update…

Last week we arrived in Ella, in the foothills, famous for it’s lush green jungles and orderly tea plantations. On the South Coast it had been scorching hot, well into the 30s and as soon as we got up to pour a drink we’d break into a cloying sweat. It was naive to think, however, that in a country as verdant as this, the weather would hold. Of course, we were wrong.

In Ella the monsoon rains came. It rained and it rained and it rained. Then there would be a small sunny window, where folks would start to put out their washing… and then it would rain again. With the rain, the mosquitoes disappeared, but in their stead came the leeches. We suffered terribly as we trekked through long grass and scrabbled over the wet rocks, and when we came home we had to burn the little blighters off one by one.

One morning, we got up early and climbed a rock the locals call “Little Adam’s Peak” – an hour’s climb from the town – from where we were rewarded with fantastic views of the sun rising over the plantations, and the famous ‘Ella Gap’.

From Ella, we headed further North, to Nuwara Eliya, the highest settlement on the island, where the early colonialists flattered the hilltop forests and planted row upon row of immaculate tea bushes in their stead. The road winds up and up through the hills, and on either side, the ramshackle tea factories vie for pride of place. We stopped for a few tastings along the way and finally reached the Grand Hotel where we were treated with our first afternoon tea in an incredible 3 weeks!

Our first tea in Sri Lanka...

We’ve arrived in Sri Lanka, and here we are on the South Coast enjoying our first tea of the trip. They make iced tea the old fashioned way with freshly brewed tea, fresh lime, ice and LOADS of sugar. The result? About the most refreshing drink you can get until the sun crosses the yard arm,

Amongst our most pleasant discoveries since arriving is that yard-arm-sun-crossing seems to happen much earlier here…

Next week, we head North to the foothills, for our tour of the tea plantations.

Let’s see shall we?

As usual we’ve left packing pretty last minute. Now was NOT a good time to find out that my rucksack (last used for Duke of Edinburgh, aged 14) has been destroyed by moths and I have LITERALLY only odd socks.

We are setting off on our tea pilgrimage to Sri Lanka, India and China and our flight leaves for Sri Lanka in a few hours.

Bon Voyage Noveltea!

Noveltea are jetted away to Sri Lanka, India and China on a tea pilgrimage

"...Now is not a good time to realize that my rucksack (last used for Duke of Edinburgh, aged 14) has been destroyed by moths and I have LITERALLY only odd socks..."

Noveltea travels far and wide in search of the finest tea on the planet

Join our 3 month adventure through the plantations of India, Sri Lanka and China

 

We have some fantastic news we’d like to share with you! Inspired by tea over many years we are just about to set off on an adventure of a lifetime. Next week we will fly to Colombo for a tour of the tea plantations of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), India and China. We will then return home by train, over 7000 miles via one of the so-called “Silk Routes” through Kazakhstan and Russia, which is the way tea was originally brought to these shores.

We’ll be sorry to leave, as spring bursts through the doors and windows of Tea HQ, but we can’t wait to share with you tales and photos from our trip…