Conveniently staying at Taylor’s Hill meant a trip to Loolecondera which is close to Deltota. We were collected from the front door of our fab boutique hotel and taken to the factory stopping off on the way to see black pepper trees, cinnamon bushes and citronella plants. Our guide was very knowledgeable and the driver competent as we scrambled about the tea hills high above Kandy. They are narrow roads and many are not made up, with recent rain they were slippery too.
The factory was dark as there didn’t appear to be any lighting but despite this workers were going about their business with commitment, happy to allow visitors to watch this labour intensive industry. There are seven grades of tea, seven being the finest and one being very much like tea dust. New shoots are picked and then laid out on long tables to dry. Warm air is blasted through via a fan underneath these tables. Waste is taken from the shoots before the good leaves are broken down into something that we would recognise as tea and ready for the pot. Stalks are put into a machine and dropped onto mesh shakers where they can be separated, eventually the tea is bagged and sent for auction. Over nine hundred people are employed in this factory which was originally powered by a water wheel.
There are three elevations, high, mid and low and each gives a different strength. We got the opportunity to drink some black tea high up by James Taylor’s Seat and looked at a view that he must have seen a thousand times….watching eagles soar across the valley towards the Knuckles mountain range. James Taylor was the original tea planter.