Picking Tea in Sri Lanka (& where have I been?)

Greetings all and Merry Christmas!

I’m ashamed to say my last blog entry was nearly two years ago… EEK. I wish I could tell you that I’ve been off travelling the world discovering all the tea – but that’s not strictly true. Unfortunately, I let life just kinda… get on top of me and I had a big ol’ burnout. Not fun at all – and if you’ve been there before or are currently there, I really do feel for you.

So, as a result it’s been a bit of a slow return to rediscovering the things I’m passionate about. So here I am, nearly 2 years later dusting the ol’ teacups off and ready to sit back, have a brew and get back to it.

The one constant in all this? No surprise… TEA! Of course. Where would I be without it? I often wonder. As I think I’ve said before – when I look at all the ups, the downs, and the lefts and rights in my life, tea genuinely has been one of the constants that I turn to for comfort.

Discovering Sri Lanka

Something I did do this year is realise a dream! I spent two weeks in Sri Lanka back in April and was fortunate enough to be able to visit several tea factories, and take part in the actual picking process, before watching my leaves being turned into real tea. One of the most surreal experiences of my life but the beauty of seeing where the stuff I drink so much of actually comes from, and the processes that are involved, really was an eye opener. Oh and the smells – how to describe the smell of a tea factory? Imagine you’re walking into a cloud of hot slightly mouldy tea smoke or something… it is both amazing, overpowering and a little bit off-putting! I’ll work on how to exactly describe it.

So it’s time to create my new years resolutions (again)…

  1. Write up the 3 blog posts from Sri Lanka I’d been working on! (January 2019!)
  2. Continue to learn everything there is to know about black tea!
  3. Maybe try and explore green tea at some point..
  4. To keep up-to-date with my projects!!

Let’s see how far I get…

Until next time,

Elizabeth c(_) xx

How Tea Is Grown

The plant that tea comes from grows across much of Asia, its native home – Sri Lanka, India, Viet Nam, China etc… it grows, and is cultivated, in 35 countries across the world such as Africa, Argentina and even the UK (!) to name just a few. It can grow anywhere, and in most climates – from small gardens, to giant plantations spanning acres. However, there’s a common set of criteria needed for the successful cultivation of the real grade-A stuff.

High Altitude – you tend to find wet, misty conditions the higher up you go, which is great for a plant that needs to be protected from harsh sunlight, and access to plenty of water & minerals as it grows. The leaves can mature slowly without the worry of being scalded by fierce temperatures, and despite it taking longer to grow at higher altitudes, the flavor produced is better – in other words, it’s worth the wait!

Steep mountain slopes – some of the highest quality tea comes from mountain ranges with an altitude of over 1200m. This creates a perfect atmosphere of misty & humidity to help leaves absorb as much water, and nutrients as possible.

Sub-tropical climate – despite being able to grow in most climates, the best type of tea comes from plantations in humid climates – typically above 10 degrees. This climate gives the plants the best chance of maturing slowly, and developing the perfect flavors.

Moist, acidic, deep soil – tea needs rainfall, at least 50inches of rainfall to be precise, in order to flourish. They prefer deep, acidic soils in order to soak up some of the much needed minerals for successful growth.

As mentioned earlier, there are other areas, climates and conditions that tea can and does grow, i.e The UK – something I’m looking forward to exploring in more detail as I progress with this project. Must admit, I’m finding it difficult to imagine the UK as a tea-friendly environment, I shall have to write to the team at Tregothan, to find out!

For now however, getting the basics is key. And on that, I’ve invested in two great books to help me on my quest. I’ll be reviewing them shortly, and sharing all my learnings.

World Atlas of Tea, Krisi Smith

Tea: The Extraordinary Story of the World’s Favourite Drink, Roy Moxham

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See you next time,
Elizabeth c(_)

Sources: teaclass.com / World Atlas Of Tea, Krisi Smith, Wikipedia