Visiting a Tea Plantation in the Hill Country, Sri Lanka

After the shortcomings of Ella, our opinion of the Hill Country was low. Up steps Haputale, a small town (potentially village depending on your definition of the word), on the railway between Haputale and Nuwara Eliya. We had read of The Bawa Guesthouse, and it’s homely atmosphere at January sale prices, so thought it might be good for a night or two.

Granted, there’s not much to do in Haputale, but the Bawa’s make up for that in abundance. Mr Bawa is one of the most friendly people I have ever met, and is very funny as well. He’s also a well-known celebrity in the gem and cut-stones world (who knew).
Mrs Bawa serves up some cracking veggie curries for all the guests every night, and so far we’ve sampled some absolute corkers, my favourite of which is the leek curry.

Fact of the Day – Sir Trevor McDonald (off of the news) once stayed at the Bawa Guesthouse when he visited Sri Lanka, so it must be good!

11km outside of Haputale is the Dambatenne Tea Factory, built by Sir Thomas Lipton in 1890. It is still a working tea factory over 2 floors producing an astonishing 30,000kg of tea a week! That’s about enough for a couple of days in my family!

A tour around the factory with our very knowledgable guide cost R250 a piece. We were shown how the tea leaves are brought in, weighed and then dried for 18 hours upstairs, before being cut, dried further, fermented, sieved and graded downstairs ready for packing and then being sold at the weekly tea auction in Colombo.


Unsurprisingly, being around tea leaves for an hour was making us thirsty, so we were dying for a cup of tea at the end. Sadly, this was not an option, so we settled for buying a box of quality BOPF grade tea. That’s right – I’ve got the lingo now.

We then endured a bus journey back to Haputale where either the driver, or the bus, failed to find anything other than first or second gear.

On the other side of Haputale resides the incredibly calm and tranquil Adisham Benedictine Monastery which was founded be Sir Thomas Lester Villiers (another tea baron). Sir Thomas, or Tom as he was know to his fellow Knights of the Realm, clearly liked England and so basically moved England here. The building is as English as you get, and surrounded by country gardens and lawns that look like they’re straight out of Downton Abbey. Inside is a library where one can look (but not touch or read) books on subjects from “Charles II and his ladies of pleasure” to all 6 volumes of “The Life of Disraeli” (no doubt in my mind that Disraeli both needs and deserves 6 volumes).


We then had more curry.

Our plan is to move on to Nuwara Eliya tomorrow and then hopefully hitting up Dalhousie for the assent, and naturally descent, of Adam’s Peak.

Enough about us, how are you??




  1. Fiona Lucraft
    27th January 2014 / 6:19 pm

    Hullo, child of my heart! Quick query: why is Adisham a monastery? It sounds like a country house rather than a house for religious. Are there any deeply prayerful souls there now? I approve of the library!
    Love Madre

    • 28th January 2014 / 2:14 pm

      It was named after Adisham in Kent, because Sir Thomas was born there! It was very disorientating……xx

      • Emily
        28th January 2014 / 3:11 pm

        Ha! I thought it was a coincidence that it was Adisham such as the Kentish village – see, you can never escape your roots! x

  2. Emily
    27th January 2014 / 9:49 pm

    I’m fine, thanks for asking! Loving tea based exploits and various bus drama. Who knew it was a universal problem! The flat is cosy and I’ve decided that I’ll squat here now if that’s ok. I’m sure the Grandparents won’t mind, I mean it’s a 2 bed! Ange came to pick up all your stuff with Annie, we went for lunch and had a jolly time. Good luck for Adam’s Peak – please photograph each other’s faces at the summit. Miss you guys! xxxx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.