Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nandana Tea Factory visit, South Srilanka

While I was exploring places to visit around Galle, Nandana Tea factory came up. Nandana tea factory is pretty far from regular tourist towns of Srilanka. Most tourists visit tea factories which are conveniently located- in 2011 we had visited a tea factory in Nuwara Elia. Nandana is some 40kms from Galle and is not really on the top in the list of things to do, so probably most tourists don’t find it worth going all the way. As I was planning my itinerary to me it looked like instead of going directly to Matara, I can go to Hiyare Reservoir, then Nandana Tea Factory and then head down to Matara. Because everythig else was beach, I thought a short ride on the mountains will be great. I checked Nandana Tea Factory's website and it said they are open to visitors. That sealed it.

Read about Hiyare Reservoir in this post.  As we headed towards Nandana tea factory, we passed through several small tea factories- our driver kept saying that none of these are open to tourists and asked from where did we get to know about the fact that Nandana tea factory is open to tourists. I said internet and he said “I don’t know that much about internet- not many tourists come this side. 2004 was when I had come here last

Hutch internet connection died on the way. With some local help we navigated last few kms and reached Nandana. Once they confirmed that factory tour will be arranged, we were relieved

The factory visit program at Nandana Tea Factory consists 3 parts- Garden visit, factory visit and tea tasting session. Entire session lasts about 90 minutes and is totally free. On that day we were the only group and thus the tour felt very exclusive, compared to other factories that tour visitors in large groups.

Our first stop was at their kitchen, where we were shown their traditional grinding stone, kettle, raw rice and other village style life.

Next we saw the nursery, where different types of tea plant saplings are nurtured before planting outdoors. TRI stands for Tea Research Institute. It assigns specific numbers for each breed/variety of tea (Example: TRI 2043)

Next stop was at the garden- very small campus (about 4-5 acres). Staff were very informative to tell us about various plants and trees in their garden. Many medicinal plants, fruits are cared for here. We were shown how a decompose pit, a honey bee nest and many other trees/plans and their importance were explained to us.

They have a small venue made completely out of natural materials- tree trunk, mud etc. If there are any events this hut is used for the same.

After exploring the garden, we entered the tea factory. We were first shown the initial drying bed, where up to 35% moisture is taken out from the leaves. At the time of our visit they didn't have any fresh stock to process, hence this section was empty.

Next we entered the processing area through back door. Here visitors are given a white coat and hat. No other tea factory that I visited had this provision. There was no restriction to take photograph either.
We saw the huge machinery at work churning the leaves, crushing them into smaller ones and then, the leaves getting separated based on size

The final stage is special. There is a colour separator machine, which scans each tea leaf particle, identifies its colour (black, brown etc) and routes them to different boxes. Before the arrival of this machine, the separation was done with hands by experts
Nandana tea factory is in its 3rd generation of ownership and reportedly exports to 4-5 different countries including Russia and UK.

 Final phase was tea testing (or tasting). The most interesting part. Most tea factory visits conclude with drinking a cup of tea. But here at Nandana, we were laid out with a buffet of tea variants. Around 6 different variations and first and second extraction for each- that is 12 options. We could sample any or all of them one by one to decide which one we like the most. Then they would make a full cup tea of the variant we selected. Tea was also accompanied by biscuits, banana and jaggery- total bliss- almost eliminated need for lunch that day.

After tea tasting we went to their factory store and bought 3-4 packets of tea. Rate card is below for your reference.
Then we headed towards Matara. The visit was totally worth it. Map location below. When in South Srilanka, recommend visiting this factory.

Similar: Royal Enfield Bullet Factory visit * Nano Sanand plant visit * Moonstone factory visit *


Swati & Sam said...

I have been to one in Malaysia - Boh Plantation , it was a nice experience and thank god internet did not ditch you and it was actually open to visitors :)

Thanks for sharing an offbeat location :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

It was open to visitors as per their website. i had seen and planned accordingly. Just that our driver was not sure of it...

Internet was not working in that region on a Hutch sim card

joshi daniel said...

great experience :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Joshi

Bushra Muzaffar said...

Enjoyed the walk around the tea factory. Thanks!

Indrani said...

This is interesting. I am reminded of my tea factory visit near Kodaikanal.
Great series of captures from the interiors.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Indrani and Bushra