Sebastian traveled to Sri Lanka about three weeks after the tsunami hit. Here is an account of his trip.
The central hill country, where much of the tea is produced, was directly unaffected, but along the coast wide swaths of rubble were still evident. More than one Sri Lankan pointed out that, ironically, the tsunami allowed for beautiful views of the Indian Ocean to be visible for the first time in decades. But it was hard to fully appreciate this when people were still living in tents donated by international aid organizations.
In the central highlands I traveled to Kandy and Nuwara Eliyah, stopping by various tea estates in between. Gorgeous green tea bushes wrapped the lush hills, and the narrow roads wound through the verdant groves. Most estates are also home to their own tea factories, processing thousands of tons of tea in many instances. (Sri Lanka is the world's third largest producer of tea in the world.) Along with the many grades of black teas, including those similar to the Ceylon Orange Pekoe we offer, I found an interesting white tea called Golden Tips. It is similar to the better-known Silver Tips with a stronger taste and slightly yellow, instead of white, leaves.
I also had the opportunity to stay with a British friend who lives in Galle on the south coast. Except for the fort area protected by a 17th-century, Dutch-built wall, the coastal areas of the beachfront town were devastated by the tsunami. Rory is involved with local efforts to rebuild. He also just purchased 58 acres of a once-thriving tea estate up the hill from Galle, and he has plans to grow teas, fruits, and spices.
More information about Project Galle, which has been very active with tsunami relief in southern Sri Lanka, is at Rory's website, www.thewebofhope.com.
Try our Ceylon Orange Pekoe, the classic breakfast tea from the island of Sri Lanka. The name comes from the Dutch Royal House of Orange -- not from the fruit.
Travel Diary, Sri Lanka 2005
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