Visit Tea Plantations & Factories

‘Ceylon Tea’, a name that reverberates in every mind of a visitor, therefore a visit to Sri Lanka would not be complete without witnessing the cherished journey of the plucked shiny leaf into the dried leaf that brews the perfect cup of tea.


  • Indulge in an experience climbing the carpeted hills of tea and learn how the tea leaves are picked
  • Tea is grown by dwarf sized trees that are kept at a height of 1.5 metres by regular pruning
  • Plucked buds and young leaves covered with a light silvery down are sent to the factories for manufacture and process
  • At the factory, the leaves are dried, rolled, fermented and separated into different grades of black tea
  • The tea leaves are then packed in mass quantities and stored for transportation for distribution and sale


Kandy, the birthplace of Ceylon Tea is the administrative capital for tea production since ancient times when modern transport and roads had barely emerged. Since Kandy was located on a higher elevation in the hills, its climatic conditions proved ideal for the growth of tea, hence the British, during their colonization years, converted many areas to tea plantations, inaugurating the production of tea in Sri Lanka. The first tea plant was brought to the country from China and was planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. Having originated in Kandy, tea plantations flourished to areas of Nuwara Eliya, Hatton, Haputale, Hantane and Bandarawela, thus rapidly increasing the production of tea even after Sri Lanka’s independence thereby making the country among the top tea producers in the world.

Tea, grown in plantations established by the British colonials, is made up of dwarf sized trees that are kept at a height of 1.5 metres by regular cultivation and pruning thus forming a uniform level known as a plucking table which enables thousands of tea pickers to pluck the leaves. These are the young leaves and buds which are covered with a light silvery down hence its name ‘Pekoe’ is derived from the Chinese word Pak-ho which means ‘fine hair’ or ‘down’. These leaves and buds are then sent to the factories for manufacture and process into different types of black tea.

Epic Sri Lanka Holidays can give you the Tea plucking experience tour where you could climb up the rolling green hills of the tea plantation and pluck tea along with the pluckers learning their lives being a tea plucker and sharing their knowledge of tea plucking.

Walk into a tea factory and indulge an amazing experience of the tea manufacturing process journey of the plucked shiny leaf into the dried leaf that can brew a perfect and warm cup of tea.
The two young tender leaves and bud are plucked totally by hand by thousands of hardworking plantation pluckers. These leaves are gathered together and transported to the relevant factory of each plantation or estate.
The first step of the tea manufacturing process is the drying. The plucked leaves, a total weight of approximately 1200kg are placed in a giant trough, in which at one end there is a large blower which works like a fan blowing room temperature over the leaves for about 18 hours evaporating all the moisture within the leaves. Apart from drying, this process makes the leaves soft and supple and also alters the biochemical properties of the leaves which enhance the tea character for flavour.
The second step involves in transferring the dried leaves into a grinder or rolling machine where it gets crushed. This is considered as the first major step in processing black tea. This process breaks the leaves into pieces which crushes the leaf cells yielding the natural chemical compounds and fluids of the leaves that facilitate the process of fermentation. The rolling or grinding process is continued to break into smaller pieces. The smaller the leaves are the stronger the flavour it will have.
Next is fermentation where the leaves are laid out on open trays in cool, airy and humid rooms so as to promote oxidation. This process is a crucial and important step towards the development of the aroma and flavour of the tea with cautioned control given to the duration of the fermentation. This is regulated by adding water vapour to speed along the fermentation or using a blower fan to blow air onto the leaves. If insufficient fermentation or longer duration of the process occurs, it could weaken the tea.
Following this stage, once appropriate levels of fermentation have been achieved the fermentation process is stopped by drying the leaves in ovens with temperatures of 110 degree Celsius for 20 minutes. The temperature has to be controlled in order to prevent the tea from acquiring a musty taste and aroma. This process dries out the leaves completely and arrests fermentation turning the leaves into black hence the reason the tea is referred to as black tea.
Thereafter the leaves are sorted by separating the stems from the leaves, size of leaf and categorized by the types of tea. This includes leaf grades that culminate into higher prices in comparison to dust grades. The stems are re-used as fertilizer.
The tea leaves are then packed in mass quantities and stored for transportation for distribution and sale.