Walapane covered with many tea plantations. Majority of tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya district located in Walapane Jurisdiction. World famous authentic Udapussellawa Tea and Mathurata Plantation are key highlights. There are also many other smaller tea plantations dominating the region and pure Ceylon black tea market with unique aromatic blend.
Earlier years Walapane was the heart of Wathumulla Plantation, there was a tea factory right in the heart of Walapane town. However, due to declined production and political reasons the tea factory closed down and remaining of the estate aquired to Mahauva estate. There are so many tea plantations covered like a blanket top of the mountains. Scattered Tea factories decorate the tea plantation blanket. Tea produce from Walapane falls into high grown tea. They have brisk full flavours and bright golden colour. In Sri Lanka tea can be plucked throughout the year. This is an advantage naturally gifted from the geographical location.
Tea production in Sri Lanka
Tea production in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is of high importance to the Sri Lankan economy and the world market. The country is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea and the industry is one of the country’s main sources of foreign exchange and a significant source of income for laborers, with tea accounting for 15% of the GDP, generating roughly $700 million annually. In 1995 Sri Lanka was the world’s leading exporter of tea, (rather than producer) with 23% of the total world export, but it has since been surpassed by Kenya. The tea sector employs, directly or indirectly over 1 million people in Sri Lanka, and in 1995 directly employed 215,338 on tea plantations and estates. The central highlands of the country, low temperature climate throughout the year, annual rainfall and the level of humidity are more favorable geographical factors for production in high quality tea. The industry was introduced to the country in 1867 by James Taylor, the British planter who arrived in 1852.
Tea produced in Sri Lanka is ranked top as the finest black tea in the world, grown and produced according to uncompromising, traditional methods and standards. Sri Lanka Tea Board is the apex administrative body of the SriLankan tea industry. It has Tea Museum showcase the history of Ceylon Tea.
Mahauva Estate is the closest tea estate to Walapane town. After Wathumulla tea estate closed remaining tea estate of Wathumulla aquired to Mahauva Estate. The factory located about 5 km towards Nuwara Eliya.
There are four estates nestled in the undulating landscape of the Piduruthalagala and Ragala mountain ranges. Concordia, Courtlodge and Park estate are located between 1,500m and 2,256m above sea level in the Piduruthalagala mountain range and produce the prestigious high grown quality “Champagne Tea”. Blairlemond estate in the Ragala mountain range is situated between 914m and 1,128 m above the mean sea level. Managed by Finlays.
Udapussellawa Plantations Limited is currently managed by Finlays Colombo PLC, formerly state government tea board managed it. The estates produce about 10 million kilo of made tea. There are approximately 10,000 people work in the plantation. Udapussellawa Plantation located 1,500 to 2,200 metres above sea level. Hence, produce a range of teas which are distinctive in character and flavour. Udapussellawa produces medium and high-grown orthodox tea.
Uda Pussellawa produces a variety of leaf sizes and styles, reflecting the relatively broad range of altitudes at which its estates are situated.
In Europe Uda Pussellawa Ceylon tea consider as exquisitely tangy. The tea grown on the Uda Pussellawa mountain range is of medium body with majestic flavour.
Mathurata Plantations Ltd. (MPL) is one of the largest tea producing companies in Sri Lanka and is world-renowned for superior quality tea managed by LOLC PLC is a memeber of ORIX Groupa pioneer finance venture capital from Japan.
Life of a Tea Estate
Labouring work at a tea estate can be very hard. People who works in plantation works need lot of energy. During the English colonial era Indian born plantation workers brought to Sri Lanka to work in the cold regions of Udapussellawa and Ragala. Nowadays, these people migrated in the past considered Sri Lanka as their home land have extended families.
Labouring jobs normally start at around 4.30 in the morning, mind you tea region like Walapane, Ragala, Udapussellawa can be very cold in some months covered with mist, dew and drizzle. Tea leaves picking from trees mostly done by woman. These woman cover their head and upper body from a blanket to protect from dew and from sun during day time. Tea leaves are collected to big baskets made from cane. These baskets can be heavy when filled up. Tea agriculture requires sloppy land to grow the plantation. Hence, walking around plans is not easy as walking in a levelled ground.
The hill slopes are often slippery and snake – infested. Only their sheer perseverance and the determination to keep the home fires burning, keep the lights of life within them burning.
With nimble hands, they pluck the tender leaves for about three hours non – stop and deposit the plucked leaves at a certain spot. With just a sip of plain tea, they resume their plucking tasks. Their noon meal is very poor and in the afternoon by 3.00 p.m., they bring their day’s plucking to the factory where it the it is weighed. Often, if the plucked leaves are not up to the required standard, they are rejected. So it’s time and labor lost.
These poor. Human wretches live in hovels called “lines” – some ten to fifteen little huts joined together. Here, sanitation is almost nil. It is a shame that life like this is lived by people who bring in the highest revenue to the country.