Tea on the road from Ingiriya

Gill Juleff

It’s a road between bigger places, not in itself remarkable. Slow and windy as it starts the first climb from the coast towards the interior highlands of Sri Lanka. Bounded by pepper and rubber, and then the first untidy tea plantations, the road navigates its way through the ribbons of ridges and valleys that lap up against the south-western escarpment of the central massif. The tea here is known as ‘low grown’ and gives a dark, bitter, astringent liquor, enjoyed sweetened and flavoured with cardamom in the Middle East and Russia. It has a significant export market, although regarded with some disdain by devotees of the traditional lighter, fragrant, ‘high grown’ teas of the highlands.

Newly cleared tea land with stone drains and terraces, and old tea bushes visible below larger trees on upper slopes.