When we were in the highlands we visited the Glenloch tea factory for buffet curry lunch and a plantation tour. This was quite the tourist stop, but as it was our first day in country and a visit to a tea factory was a top To Do thing, we were quite happy to have ticked this activity off our list. All good, we learned about tea, the scenery was beautiful, and we drank and bought tea.
Today, we spent time with Herman at his lowland tea plantation near Galle. This was visit was totally different from our first tea plantation visit. First of all, the draw was that this tea plantation sold white tea harvested untouched by picker’s hands. The picker’s used gold plated scissors and snipped the white tips into bowls. This mimics the story from ancient China that virgins similarly harvested tea so that the emperor’s lips were the only thing human that touched the tea. That story, along with the highest recorded antioxidant percentage – 10.11% – of a natural beverage has made this tea exclusive, much sought after, and quite stratospherically expensive. We had to visit this plantation as it was only about a 30 minute drive from our mansion.
Now, what made this afternoon truly special was that Herman himself took us on a tour of his plantation. The landscape was a mixture of tea plants, peppercorn trees, rubber trees, cinnamon trees, coconut trees, and flowers such as hibiscus. This was no mono culture plantation; the variety of flora created a delightful beauty.
The tour was a short walk up to the veranda of his house where we sat down to drink tea and eat cake and talked tea, Sri Lanka, cinnamon, A Brief History of Tea in Sri Lanka, authoring books, his sons, and such. This man is 69 years old, well spoken and quite witty. He was in no hurry with us, and we felt quite welcome as guests, and not some tourists to rush through to the gift shop.
When we got back to the tour, Herman took us to the factory. Most of the machinery was original from 1860 and had been made in England and Belfast. This was a working museum of machinery. As we finally made it into the gift shop, they had 25 different teas out for tasting. Gigi and Pearl were quite taken with Herman, and they bookended him on a couch and kept chatting with him. No wonder Herman kept saying how much he loved his job, he was a naturally gregarious and generous person, a great ambassador for Sri Lankan tea.