Our World Making a cuppa is serious business

Tradition and artistry unite, writes STEPHEN SCOURFIELD

All I want, of course, is a nice cup of tea.

But I get more than I bargained for.

In the high tea country of Sri Lanka, the very thought of quickly dunking a teabag in a mug of hot water, slopping in milk and slurping it down, is, well, downright sacrilegious.

The tea of Sri Lanka is taken seriously, as it should be.

For it is the result of the minerals of this hilly landscape, so often with its head in the clouds, of the climate, the sweet rain, cool nights, and of human experience and the work of human hands.

It is a coming together of plant and humans in a sweet brew.

And, just at this moment, that brew is being brought into my bungalow... “bed tea”.

It is the tradition and part of the culture to request “bed tea” before retiring, and to be brought a tray with a teapot, cups, saucers and silver spoons, and some of Sri Lanka’s finest in the morning.

For travellers who come to enjoy the beaches, shops and sights of Colombo, and then venture into the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, from Anuradhapura on its northern point to Polonaruwa in the east and south-west to Kandy, mixing in a visit to the high tea country is a nice shift and good addition.

For a start, high-grown teas like cool and moisture and to be above 1200m, which means a predictably refreshing climate.

This is one of three main tea-growing types and regions in Sri Lanka, with low-grown teas between sea level and 600m, and mid-grown from 600m to 1200m.

But it is to the high country that we visitors tend to come, to stay in plantation bungalows, to see the tea plucking and processing, and to enjoy the bed tea.

It is certainly worth two nights of a visit to Sri Lanka.

This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.

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