COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka. When I first visited in 2011, I fell in love with this tiny teardrop-shaped island off the southeastern coast of India. And I knew I would always go back.
This time, we arrived to the early morning life, as the sun was rising over this exotic island. This is Ceylon, an ancient culture of influences from the English, Dutch, and Portuguese—now new, yet old in tradition.
Mount Lavinia, our hotel for our stay in Colombo, is an historic gem. Built on a high and rocky promontory in 1806 by the then newly appointed British
governor of the island, it commands stunning views of the Indian Ocean and expansive view of the shores of Colombo. Its white walls, traditionally (and might I say welcoming) garbed staff stand as a testament to their colonial heritage.
Afternoon tea. Enjoyed on the Governor’s Terrace with fine Ceylon tea, an assortment of sweets and savories, a warm and gentle ocean breeze…one could just relax and imagine how it must have been long ago. For more on the history and romance of Mount Lavinia, please click below.
It is said that of all the practicing Buddhist nations, Sri Lanka has the longest, unbroken history. Buddhism was introduced to the country in 3BC and to this day about 70% of the population practices Buddhism.
This morning I awaken to the faint sound of Buddhist monks, their chants echoing down the mountain ravine from our villa. We are staying in what was once the private residence of a minister, now run as a private estate for just a few guests– on the edge of both tea plantations and rice fields.
Grabbing my camera, I make my way barefoot to the veranda to watch the sun rise over the mountain. By now, the villa is stirring and our wonderful butler, Akila, prepares and serves me tea. Later today, after visiting a tea plantation we will enjoy a cooking class at the villa. Sri Lankan cuisine is so amazing!
The Champage of Sri Lankan teas. Today finds us in Nuwara Eliya, or Little England, as it is often referred to. Being the highest city in Sri Lanka, the British preferred it for its cooler climate. This is high plantation country, bright green with tea as far as the eye can see. We visit Pedro Estate, home to the famed Lovers Leap and Mahagastotta teas. Pedro Estate, established in 1885,
was the first tea estate and the only estate owned by James Taylor (pioneer of Ceylon tea production). Our timing could not be better as tea pluckers were just arriving from the field and weighing in. We watch part of the day’s tea processing and after our tour enjoyed a tea tasting of some of their new teas.
Bandarawella – Aislaby Estate
From Nanu-Oya near Nuwara Eliya, one can take the train and enjoy some of the country’s most scenic views. Aislaby Estate is in the Uva region; a beautiful estate established in the 1880s and produces sought after, high-quality teas.
We make our way to Ebony Springs Estate near Nawalapitiya, where we meet up with local tea expert and planter, Bernard Holsinger. Bernard grows and produces artisan teas such as our Ceylon White Leaf Balls. We visit his factory, where we meet some of the tea pluckers and observe how the leaves are rolled and knotted to his own style.
What an enjoyable and relaxing rest of the day with great conversation and, of course, tea with Bernard and his wife, Pauline, savoring the special Love Cake whose recipe has been in Pauline’s family for more than 100 years.
For more information on Ebony Springs Homestay, please click below:
Join us on October 26-November 1, 2014, for Napoleona Tea Company: Tea Experience Adventures in Sri Lanka. Click here for more information.