In Sri Lanka, tea is the national drink. Well it has to be! Every day almost every nationality in the world will sip a liquid that was made from leaves grown here in the mysterious hills of Sri Lanka. I made the trip to the valleys and hills at Haputale in Sri Lanka to the impressive Dambatenne Tea Factory, opened by Thomas Lipton over 100 years ago. It is currently a source of tea for Scottish based company Lipton Tea amongst other worldwide tea companies and distributors. All the tea is grown locally here in the gorgeous mountains and valleys of Sri Lanka’s inland region.[
It’s in the middle of nowhere in fact so visiting Dambatenne tea factory is an off the beaten track gem. If you’ve grown up on drinking tea it’s a place not to be missed though I must say.
How do you get to the Dambatenne Tea Factory?
To be honest it’s not easy. There are no trains or direct buses up in this hilly region but what you will need will be to hire a car or a driver. A local driver knows the roads and will ensure you get there without incident. It could be easy to get lost in this part of Sri Lanka. So basically hire a local driver to take you! [
How much does visiting Dambatenne Tea Factory cost?
You will be charged 250 Rupees to enter which is fair enough. You must pay in cash at the main entrance. You might also have a short delay before starting the tour as the workers may be busy and not ready to give you the guided tour yet. However it will be worth the wait.
How long does a tour of the Dambatenne Tea Factory last?
It can be split into three parts and takes about 20 – 25 minutes, here are the three parts:
1. First of all you visit a room upstairs where the tea has just arrived in from the mountains. Here the tea leaves are put into machines ready for the process.
2. Next you visit a massive downstairs room where the tea is refined in different stages before it is finally heated.
3. The tea is heated and then cooled and put into bags ready for shipment.
Photos are banned inside for parts 2 and 3 of the tour which is fair enough as it’s their secret factory and the staff are also busy working. In terms of opening times for the tour, then it’s probably 9 – 5 but just make sure you check before you head there!
What else can you do on the tour?
It’s a very basic and quick tour and that’s really all there is to it. I was surprised to learn that there is NO tea shop or even souvenir shop there – I’d have thought they would have made money from something like that, but alas the only thing you can do is buy a fresh packet of Dambatenne Tea!!
To buy a packet of Dambatenne tea is 300 Rupees. The more expensive tea for sale is Simondou which costs a ridiculous 1,100 Rupees. You might actually be better buying them in the towns and villages in markets.
What else is there to do nearby?
It’s a sparse hilly region so activities are not vast, however I pinpoint these four things in the nearby area, it’s also easier if you have a driver (car or tuk tuk) as they can stop for you anywhere you want:
1. Savour the mountain views
2. Walk at leisure round the endless tea plantations on the hills
3. Stop at a cafe for a cup of tea with a view
4. Visit Haputale town and stay in a hotel, check out the markets and shops (there is also an ATM in the town)
So that’s really all there is to it – it’s a short and sweet tour but definitely worth doing!
I’m heading to get a cup of tea…a lifestyle of travel!