Sri lanka, Black Tea and Me… Part 4

As part of my trip to Sri Lanka it may surprise some of you to know that my trip wasn’t all pleasure. Everything I experienced was for business. And my business is tea. In the business of tea, a lot of time is spent grading, assessing, tasting and drinking tea.

Everywhere you go in Sri Lanka they have teahouses run by the local tea factory so you can sample their tea on offer. After my stay at the Tea Factory Hotel, I was taken by my host to the Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Centre in Nuwara Eliya, 2000m above sea level (Est. 1841).

Being there felt a little like being in the Blue Mountains (Notice the gum trees in the photo of the factory?) on a very cold winter morning, so the first order of business was to enjoy a freshly brewed hot cup of Mackwoods tea. Unless requested otherwise, the standard cuppa is served sweet with milk and by sweet I mean very very sweet.

And after that I visited the factory. The factory has daily tours covering the history and manufacturing of black tea in Sri Lanka, plus they have a pretty impressive track record which I will let them tell you in their own words…

“Mackwoods is a pioneer in the management of tea estates and, has been involved since the inception of tea plantations in Sri Lanka. In recognition of the Company’s proven track record in plantation management, the Company was appointed as Advisors to the Government of Zambia in respect of the agricultural and management aspects of the Zambian tea estates in the early 1970’s and was also subsequently successful in its competitive bid to manage a plantation Company again when Mackwoods was selected to manage Agalawatte Plantations Ltd, consisting of 17 tea and rubber estates, spanning 27,000 acres. Each estate is run as a separate Strategic Business Unit, each with a staff of over 500 inclusive of all housing, welfare, health, and education facilities, a substantial factory and production and processing facility. Mackwoods successfully turned around this Company into a profitable enterprise within one & a half years of management and subsequently acquired controlling interest in the Company.”

I think that’s very impressive by any standard.