Tea is Sri Lanka’s most famous exports. Ceylon Tea has been world renowned for more than a hundred years.
Scattered through the hillsides are endless tea plantations, where you will often see local workers picking the leaves and buds from the bright green plants, built into terraces on the steep hillsides.
Set around the Castlereagh Reservoir, we are staying at the Ceylon Tea Trails. This is a series of restored bungalows perched high on the mountains and surrounded by working tea farms.
It’s a true five star experience – complete with a butler and chef. The sunrise and sunset from here is pretty incredible.
We are staying in the Dunkeld bungalow, where just below, there is a working tea factory where the leaves and rolled, dried and packed for sale in Colombo and export to the world. It’s still quite primitive, using equipment from the 1960s.
There are four other bungalows on the tea trails and you’re invited to visit any of them for lunch or dinner. We decided to check out the Norwood Estate. Warned there was a 12km walk ahead of us, we thought a two hour walk through the Sri Lankan countryside would be special.
It was special. Until we took a wrong turn. Walking along a ‘main road’ which is really just a narrow strip of bitumen with tuk-tuks and buses wizzing by, we missed the small signpost that directed us to the shortest, easiest route. Instead, with three kilometres to go, we were faced with an upward, zig-zag climb to the estate.
Fortunately for us, there was a passing van from our lodge and they took us the final stretch.
Once settled in, we had an incredible lunch of broccoli and blue cheese soup (it was better than it sounds), tuna steak and a pavlova. Add in a couple of glasses of wine and mojito, and the walk was well worth it.
After a short walk around the estate it was back to cool down with a swim in our pool, taking in the amazing countryside.
Rounding out the day with some high tea and a game of croquet (we really should read the rules to prevent a walk-off like we saw), this place is a whole other world.