Before heading to southern Sri Lanka to arrive at the Lumbini Tea Factory, we spent the morning in Colombo meeting with the Sri Lanka Tea Board. I learned about the entire structure of the Ceylon Tea industry from Director Hasitha De Alwis and Senior Executive Priyanka Liyanage. After conversing for just a half hour, I had pages and pages of notes about the industry, on everything from social responsibility to the auction process. They take great pride in the high percentage of orthodox method processed tea, and the diversity of flavors the country's geography is capable of producing.
Yesterday evening we finally caught sight of our first tea fields, en route to the Lumbini Tea Factory. This family-owned-and-operated factory and plantation produces some of the most tasteful and complex black tea I have ever encountered! I was ecstatic to have a chance to taste tea that had been plucked just over a week ago; certainly the freshest tea I've ever had. This morning (after an authentic Sri Lankan breakfast of milk-rice, eggs, spicy onions, and fish) we took a tour of the tea fields and the processing factory. I've never seen so much tea in my life! The vast majority of the tea produced here is black tea of various grades, and a couple varieties of white tea (silver tips and golden tips). At the end of our tour, we had a tea tasting of about ten of the different kinds of tea produced here. It is amazing how many different flavors you can get from the same green leaf.
Later today we'll be heading to the New Vithanakanda Tea Factory in Delwala. We've heard from the local Sri Lankans that this is an enormous and very well-respected plantation and factory with high quality tea. We're very excited to visit!
More pictures to come later today!