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Tea Regions

Owing to the its geographical eccentricities, Sri Lanka features a unique landscape which showcase certain special qualities that are authentic to each region. At different altitudes and under different climatic conditions, teas produced in these regions are very much different from one another. There are four main regions that produce tea in Sri Lanka. They are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Uva and Kandy.

At an elevation of approximately 5000 – 6000 ft above sea level, the Dimbula region pans itself between the high plateau of Nuwara Eliya and its second high plateau, the Horton Plains. It derives its name from the valley that is surrounded by the sub-districts of Dikoya, Maskeliya, Talawakela, Bogawanthalawa, Kotagala and Nanu-Oya. Although misty and wet during a large part of the year, from January till around March-April, the nights are cold and windy while the days are bright and crisp. It is during this season that the region brings forth the very best of its teas.
Like all high-grown teas, Dimbula teas are small-leaved and slow growing. The topography of the area is such that it allows a whole variety of microclimates which also affects the flavour of the tea. But a common characteristic among all Dimbula teas is its clean and fresh taste and the beautiful orange hue of the beverage in a cup. The taste also has tinges of delicate jasmine and cypress which add to the tea a unique and fragrant touch. It is generally believed that the higher the altitude from which the tea is plucked, the greater the freshness and the brightness of the liquor which is particularly the case with tea plucked from the Nanu Oya district while other areas such as Dikoya is known to produces a stronger flavoured, darker coloured tea.

Located at an elevation of approximately 6000 ft above sea level, Nuwara Eliya has been fondly referred to as ‘Little England’ by colonial planters due to its cool and soothing environment. This terrain is rugged and mountainous with its cold winds scented with eucalyptus and wild mint, creating an almost spellbinding effect on all those who visit. The tea produced in Nuwara Eliya is perhaps the most well known of all, daubed as the finest tea in the entire world.

Grown at the very heart of Sri Lanka’s breathtaking hill country, Nuwara Eliya tea experiences both the eastern and the western seasons. The region is such that a short drive from one estate to another, one can experience a complete change of weather and this here lies the curious nature of this fascinating place. The year round low temperature as well as its high altitude causes the tea bush to grow slower with small leaves which take on an orange-hue after withering. When infused, the tea takes on a greenish yellow tinge- the palest among all regional Ceylon tea, and is easily set apart from low grown teas because of its elegant and refined taste.

The fact that James Taylor has left the country only once since arriving at his estate in Kandy says a gamut about the breathtaking atmosphere of the enchanting Kandyan Hills. The cool and soothing atmosphere and fragrant winds calming all senses, Kandy is not only a flourishing tea growing region, it is also the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka and the last region to succumb under the colonial rule.

A melting pot of tradition and culture, the altitude of tea cultivation in Kandy ranges between 650m and 1,300m. Because of this, the tea grown here is often described as mid-grown. Being protected by mountains all around, the estates are very much shielded from the winds, resulting in a stronger and deeper-coloured brew than of the other regions.

The tea here is bright and fragrant with an alluring bouquet, featuring a coppery colour in the cup. It is strong and full bodied with the best of teas being produced when cool, dry weather persists during the first quarter of the year.

In the earlier days, the Uva province used to the most difficult of places to reach what with the only access to the province being over steep, winding mountain roads. It is said that the journey to this somewhat mystic land took days and nights. Thanks to the improved modes of transport, passage to Uva does not require such hectic trials today. However, with such hardships to be endured during the journey, it is no wonder that Uva still remains the country’s second least populated region.

A quiet, sleepy province by nature, the climate of Uva is mild and soothing with the ground being highly mountainous and green. Although subjected to winds of both the northeast and southwest monsoon systems the weather here is relatively dry especially during the quality seasons. The winds of Uva has an unmistakable effect on the unique taste of the tea grown here and it is with the mellow and smooth taste of Uva tea that Sir Thomas Lipton had persuaded his reluctant friends to take up the habit of tea drinking many centuries ago.

The desiccated monsoon winds of the July-September eastern quality season disrupts the  normal photosynthesis in the tea plant with the hotness of the days and the coldness of the nights altering the chemical make of the plant which in turn brings about its pungent, mentholated flavor. The distinct taste of Uva tea is indeed unmistakable and is highly sought after by tea connoisseurs all over the world.

Safely nestled between the Kandy and Uva districts, in the nourishing solitude of the Eastern hill country, the Uda Pussellawa plantations thrive amongst exotic wildlife and flora.

Having the benefit of enjoying both the Northeast monsoon, and the Southwest monsoon, these estates produce a range of rose tinged, medium bodied, subtle teas. The misty mountains, coupled with climactic changes that range from dry and cold, to rainy and damp result in the varying exquisite flavours.

Grown in the low lands of the Southern province of the island, nourished by the Southwest monsoon and the humid atmosphere, the Ruhuna Plantations are home to Tea shrubs that are dark in colour and shiny in texture.  Exposed to a high rate of photosynthesis, this Tea allows the manufacturing of leaves that are especially suited to ‘rolling’.

When brewed, the liquor turns to be strong and dark and is preferred by those who opt for the distinctly robust flavour of Tea. Coppery red liquid, served up in a cup of naturally honey spangled flavour, Haritha’s Ruhuna Tea is delightful delicacy hailing from the southern plains of Lanka.

Nurtured by the soil that has for years been the womb of precious stones, elevated from sea level to approximately 2500 feet, these low grown Sabaragamuwa Tea estates enjoy the highest rainfall in the country.  Endowed with breath taking views of scenic beauty, these plantations produce a nimbly growing bush, the long leaves of which when withered, are well suited for ‘rolling’.

When brewed, the liquor turns to be golden brown, with a hint of red that varies with the altitude of the plantation. Not as strong as the alternatively low grown Ruhuna Tea, Haritha’s Sabaragamuwa Tea is tinged with a sweet flavour, and is exceptional in delivering a refreshing sip each time.