While Ceylon Tea is famed the world over, many may not realise the high-quality leaves used to produce it are painstakingly chosen by tea pluckers in Sri Lanka; here’s more on what they do.
The Birth of Ceylon Tea
Tea in Sri Lanka came about during British colonial times when the first tea plantation was begun by James Taylor in the 1800s. This led to the creation of many plantations and factories producing Ceylon Tea. Some of these old factories can be seen today including those that have been converted into a tea factory hotel; Nuwara Eliya has such unique accommodation options set amidst lush tea fields.
The Island’s Tea Pluckers
The island’s original tea pluckers were brought down from Southern India to work on the British tea plantations. These workers formed a community that lived on the estate itself and passed down their skills from generation to generation. Generally, most tea pluckers are women and they work twenty to thirty years at an estate.
The Day Begins
For tea pluckers, the day usually begins at four or five in the morning. After preparing breakfast and lunch for their families, they head to the fields with a basket tied to their backs; interestingly, they employ the “two leaves and a bud” technique to pluck only the finest leaves. At properties like Heritance Tea Factory, guests can learn this for themselves on a unique tea plucking experience with traditional attire too.
A Hard Day’s Work
Tea pluckers generally work till around five in the evening and are expected to collect approximately 15 to 18 kg of tea a day to receive a complete day’s wage. This is no easy task and their tireless efforts not to mention commitment are to be admired. On their return home, they will prepare dinner and share it with the family before getting early to bed before another day of tea plucking dawns.