White Tea – Sri Lanka

For discerning tea drinkers, a cup of lowland white tea from the southern coastal region near Galle is a highly-respected pale-yellow brew of premium flavour.

After careful cultivating, harvesting and processing, the younger, unopened buds offer a very different aroma, flavour and quench of thirst to the darker, stronger and more bitter highland tea produced in the areas of Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Bogawanthalawa and Matale.

It’s both refreshing and healthy, especially when paired with lemon or honey. And, when brewed for longer, stronger in caffeine than black tea. Light in flavour, it almost tastes sweet by the time you gulp down your third cup.

I found the whole process of production fascinating and recommend a visit to one of the tea plantations in the south of the island. As these photos from my visit to the Handunugoda Tea Plantation show, methods of production still rely on traditional processes: well-managed plantation areas, hand-pickers and old-school tea estate machinery.

Although not as extensive as the Sri Lankan tea plantations further north, the lushness of the southern coastal vegetation means that the plantation estate itself is mixed with jungle and palm trees.

It is a fun trip. Walking through the plantation areas and tea factory grounds you can see the whole process in action – the immaculately clipped saplings and well-marked bushel rows, the drying areas, the bringing in of head-high bundles of tea, and the ‘dry, rattle & roll’ of the processing plant, where tank-like conveyor-belts whirl into action like something from the industrial revolution.

All culminating in the colourfully packaged finished products in the plantation shop and nearby market stalls.

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