General description: Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea with a roaring tea industry that dominates the island’s central highlands. Introduced to the country by British tea planter James Taylor in 1867, tea irreversibly changed the topography, and even the demography of the country. In the wake of Sri Lanka’s coffee blight, British planters were quick to discover that tea was a more lucrative industry. As the number of tea estates rose, there was an increased need for human labor. The production of tea involves a tedious procedure of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying – a process that requires heavy machines and plenty of manpower. Workers were shipped over from Tamil Nadu in India to maintain the plantations, and these people, an often overlooked ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, are still the main employees in the tea industry today. 

Experience description: Tea tourism has been long-established in Sri Lanka and almost every tea factory offers a tea tour of some sort. Once in the tea factory, you would generally start out in the plantation itself to learn about how tea is cultivated, then visit the factory where ancient machines pre-dating the industrial revolution wither, roll and dry the tea. There is normally a little time at the end of the tour for a tea tasting, either of one specific type of tea or occasionally of the various specialties of that particular factory. Much like a wine tasting, a traditional tea tasting would involve drinking tea (without milk) and swilling it around the mouth to get the taste.  

Includes: Visit to the Tea factory, plantation and a tea tasting
Excludes: tips
Timings: tea factories are usually open from 10-5
Duration: approximately 30-40 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Suitable for children: Very young children probably won’t follow the descriptions of how tea is processed but they will enjoy seeing the machines in action.
Important to know: It can be noisy and dusty inside the factory. 
What to wear or bring along: There is no need to take any specific clothing.
Private or not? This Experience is private.