The Monsoon Mountains Tea Company

The Monsoon Mountains Tea Company
Tea at World's End

Sunday, 9 October 2011

April in Nuwara Eliya




When tea leaves are thrown into a heated pot just before pouring water on them,   the aroma of fermentation that permeates the countryside from whence it originated,  suddenly bursts forth.  It transports you.

         
Copyright R. Mackay


    The road from Polonnaruwa, to Kandy,  up  to Nuwara Eliya,  and  the magnificence of the ever changing landscape overwhelm the soul. There,  the steaming hot jungle both grows and decomposes all at once; there, the noise of birds, fruit bats, monkeys, elephants, and cows create cacophony. And there, drifting over all that breathes, waft intoxicating perfumes that blossom from a multitude of fauna, frangipani, spices, and food.  The road winds its way from the sweaty, sticky,  humid forest, seeming deceptively sleepy in the breathtaking canopy below,  and navigates a dizzying climb of layer upon layer of hairpin turns into the Hill Country.      
This is a landscape totally enveloped; acre upon acre,  hill upon hill,  down every valley and across every horizon,  stretch carpets of rich, bright, emerald green plantations of ripening tea.  A green more potent would be difficult to find.                                 
Copyright R. Mackay


Driving along the ridges of hills  is spectacular.  The air  is clean, cool and refreshing .  Upon stopping at a roadside verge  to stretch our weary bodies ,   we encounter a  very  distinct aroma permeating the air. It  is as though  the lid  of a giant teapot full of fresh tea has been lifted,  and held  beneath  the nose. Cool, clean air infused with fermenting tea is empirically pervading , and  emanates from factories nestled in the landscape - large, long, multi-storied and many windowed bony white buildings lying interspersed among the green.


Copyright R. Mackay
After a long ascent,  a banner which reads: ‘Welcome to the Salubrious Climbs of Nuwara Eliya” hangs over the roadway . It is the Sinhalese New Year, and the  town is busy. Lanterns and lights  line the streets in multicoloured  garlands  ,  and traditional music is piped through  loudspeakers. Vendors have  crowded the streets with stalls selling goods; sweets, juices, and  festive foods. Still referred to as ‘Little England’ by the locals,  Nuwara’s architecture is distinctively Colonial , being a place to which British plantation owners  came in summer, in order to escape the stifling heat of the jungle. 


Copyright R. Mackay

The bungalow where we usually stay is a family  owned traditional guest-house, resplendent with warm rattan furniture,   where local art graces  polished,  white-washed  walls. It rests  in a quieter corner of the hills just outside town.  Wide verandas  deck the garden, where every evening we recline on long rattan armchairs, to absorb  breathtaking views over a  bottle of refreshing lager . The  music   engulfs  the landscape, the festive spirit lingers,  and we make a pot of tea. The celebratory atmosphere takes us but we are too tired to venture into town. Perhaps tomorrow. This evening, we surrender to Morpheus, and fall asleep beneath a fine canopy of mosquito netting, as the music  filters   through our dreams,  down to the  jungle  below and far, far away. 


Copyright R. Mackay

With love from an Autumnal Edinburgh