Ceylon Tea and Tourism are among Sri Lanka's top five foreign income earners and their combination is tipped to create a unique experience as refreshing as a cup of Ceylon Tea. Thus, Ceylon Tea & Tourism make perfect partners to tango.
With a rich heritage and a cultural mix distinctive to Sri Lankan tea production and a breath taking view at every turn, Ceylon tea gardens are a great tourist destination yet to be harnessed to their fullest.
The best of Sri Lanka's tea gardens, found at an elevation of almost 2000 feet from the sea level are also surrounded by immensely beautiful scenic views and have been aptly named as the golden valley of tea. Situated in and around Nuwara Eliya, once the meeting point of tea planters in Sri Lanka, most of these large tea plantations have been attracting local and foreign visitors, who make the pilgrimage of tea to the Sri Lanka's Midlands in search of the source of the world's best tea.
Although most of the tea plantations like Halpewatte, Labookelle and Hundunagoda situated in and around central Sri Lanka offer informal tea garden tours, tea tasting, introduction to tea production and various blends of Ceylon Tea, the crème de la crème of Ceylon tea experience is provided by Sri Lanka Tea Trails, Sri Lanka's first Relais & Chateaux resort and the world's only tea garden resort.
Created around four Colonial era tea plantation bungalows, each with distinctive characteristics, the tea trail tours combines the complete tea garden experience with five star accommodation.
Guests are treated to a few days' experience of the colonial life of Raj at tea plantations while being given a tour around the tea estates and tea production facilities escorted by a direct descendant of James Taylor, the pioneer of Ceylon Tea.
The country's first tea garden at Loolecondera Tea Estate in Galaha and the country's only tea museum at Hantana, too are popular tourist destinations with their history linked to the tea cultivation of Sri Lanka.
Known as Loolkandura Plantation among the locals, Loolecondera Tea Estate is the grand old lady of Sri Lankan Tea industry, still in her prime condition. It is here in the No.7 field of Loolecondera, Scotsman James Taylor tried his hand at tea cultivation, giving rise to a US$ 1.5 billion industry.
A luxury manor house hotel on Taylor Hill, provides a modern day comfort to visitors, who come to Loolecondera, seeking the old age nostalgia of the country's 150 year old tea industry.
The Tea Museum, situated in Hantana, was a battered old tea factory awaiting demolition, when it was rescued by Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) and Sri Lanka's Tea Planters Association and Colombo Tea Trader’s Association to establish a museum dedicated to the tea industry, planters and manufactures of the country.
The museum details the tea manufacturing process, celebrates legendary planters and pioneers of the industry and contains a souvenir and a tea shop for the tea lovers. A library containing the old images and written records and archives of tea industry provides excellent eye and mind candy to Ceylon Tea enthusiasts, while the auditorium is an ideal venue for tea related conferences.
Leading tea production and retailing house, Dilmah too offers mini tea appreciation session, that could be booked five days in advance. Guests are treated to a tea appreciation session followed by a scrumptious tea, fulfilling their wildest tea dreams.
With Ceylon Tea becoming a global phenomena and a part of the international lifestyle, Ceylon tea based tourism is bound to become a large itinerary in Sri Lanka Tourism industry.