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Sri Lanka: For the love of Tea (plantations)

You can’t buy happiness but you can buy tea and that’s kind of the same thing

It’s true. It exists. Boutique tea!

Travelling around Sri Lanka you see more than your necessary handful of tea plantations, they are as common here as teenage girls at a One Direction concert. For that much tea there needs to be a hell of a lot of factories to process it all, after all there’s a pretty big demand for it worldwide. Because of this tea, the loving feeling has gone and instead the big factories churn out quantity over quality far too often.

Don’t get me wrong the average tea drinker probably wouldn’t notice the difference, we get upset if we get Liptons not a proper Yorkshire tea but don’t really know why.
At Amba Estate near Ella they’d be shocked and disgusted if you offered them that tea dust, which personally I cannot function without back home (oh what I’d do for a Yorkshire tea with REAL milk), instead of their hand processed tea leaves, it’s not your average brew for sure!

Set high up in the hills, so high in fact that sometimes the plantation is nothing more than an obstacle for the low-lying cloud to wrap itself around,  this tea plantation exudes that luxury feeling I’d expect from an upscale vineyard not a place where they grow tea leaves. To them though every leaf is gold and treated with genuine love and passion.

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

You can so often get overwhelmed by all the options of where to go to get a ‘real tea’ experience, most places seem to lack an authenticity and personality but even on a dull day strolling through the grassy footways around the many acres of tea bushes, fruit trees and veg patches there’s something so peaceful. A break in the clouds sends sunbeams dancing around the dewy grass and our guide spreads his arms, grinning wildly exclaiming the skies are ‘blessing us with with gold dust, it always makes the tea sweeter’.

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Even the weeds here are an array of rainbow coloured flowers accenting the planes of green beautifully and as the clouds move like a screen across the adjacent hills they reveal the valley plummeting below. It seems the perfect place for the perfect cuppa to grow.

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The tour, like most, is free but be careful because you will literally want to buy the gift shop afterwards. You can choose to have a tea tasting after the tour which I highly recommend, after all why bother learning about if you don’t taste it!

White tea flower in full bloom

White tea flower in full bloom

Happiness is the perfect cup of tea (or wine glass)

Happiness is the perfect cup of tea (or wine glass)

The guide that showed us around was really passionate and knowledgable which made the whole thing so much enjoyable and at the tasting told us what each tea went best with, see good tea is like good wine.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR0680.Green tea: Best with curried dishes and snacks such as samosas or fish

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0680.White tea: fruits and vegetables DCIM100GOPROGOPR0680.Black tea: cake and biscuits (and lots of them)  

Clearly us brits have got the afternoon tea down to a ‘t’ (yes I did just say that), we’ve known for years black tea is best with a biccy or two packets.

They also teach you how the different types of tea are made, contrary to popular belief it’s all from the same plant, it’s amazing what different tastes can come from a leaf being dried or not!

The tea chart... obviously

The tea chart… obviously

And just encase you were under any misconceptions about how to make the perfect cuppa, they even provide you with a guide on making the perfect brew, no excuses!

Green and black tea should be brewed for 3 minutes, with 80 degree for green and 85degree water for black (to be precise).
White tea for at least 5 minutes, the tea flowers blossom beautifully and should also be in 85degree water.

They actually have their own timers for this but unless you’re a diehard tea fan I’m guessing you’ll just do it how you always have…

Tea timer for the perfectionist in you!

Tea timer for the perfectionist in you!

The tea here is so brilliant they actually supply upmarket stores back home in the UK for a pretty hefty mark up, this is OP1 level tea, that’s the best of the best when it comes to tea grades, so best believe these guys know what they’re on about!

Actually the reason I decided to go to Amba wasn’t because of the tea at all, at first it was because of the jam, yep that’s right, they make the most amazing jam that just so happened to be served to us every breakfast at the homestay we were at in Ella. I’m talking passionfruit and vanilla, mango and vanilla and other amazing flavours. These guys are geniuses when it comes to utilising their surroundings including the fruit trees.

Trying to figure out if all this jam will fit into my backpack!

Trying to figure out if all this jam will fit into my backpack!

And yes because I love you all and want you to be happy I took a sneaky picture of the recipe so you can get making your own!

Mango and Ginger Jam

Mango and Ginger Jam

SO my little lovelies now you know if you ever find yourself in Sri Lanka and want an intimate encounter with some tea leaves then Amba Estate has your back.. and your cup of tea!

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P.S.
Don’t you just hate it when you think you’re friends with someone and then they put the milk in first … just no!
So just to end the debate, proper tea shouldn’t need milk but if you should still be inclined to add a little white stuff you should do it AFTER the tea has brewed. 

I didn’t receive any freebies or discounts for this post and all views are my own, I’m just an English girl who really appreciates a bloody good brew when she sees one!

 

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