In Sri Lanka, tea is the national drink. 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 visited the valleys and hills of Haputale in Sri Lanka to the impressive Dambatenne Tea Factory, started 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 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. It was made more special by the fact that I was there with my Mum who introduced me to drinking tea back in the early 1980s in Northern Ireland.
How to get to Dambatenne Tea Factory
It’s not going to be easy to get there. There are no rail or bus links directly, so your best bet is to get to the mountain village of Haputale first and get a local bus over to Dambatenne. Tuk tuks/three wheelers are also available and you can also go with a tour group. The entrance fee is 250 Rupees, payable in cash only at the front door. You may have to wait until one of the workers is available to take you round.
It can be split into three parts and takes about 20 – 25 minutes to complete the tour:
1. Visiting the upstairs rooms where the tea leaves are brought into the building and they are placed into the massive circular machines before going through the refining process.
2. Visiting the downstairs room where the tea goes through different levels of refining and is eventually left out to rest before being heated.
3. The tea is heated and then cooled and put into bags ready for shipment.
No photos are permitted during parts 2 or 3. The below photo is from the upstairs room. The workers are hard at work while you’re walking around and for this reason I respected the “no photos” rule.
You can buy a packet of fresh Dambatenne tea for 300 Rupees, but the more refined Simondou costs 1,100 Rupees.
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 would like to go along the way. (photos, food, relaxing, taking in the scenery).
- Admire the views of the mountains:
- Walk at leisure round the endless tea plantations on the hills:
- Stop at a cafe for a cup of tea with a view:
- Visit the town of Haputale (there are hotels, markets, shops and even an ATM there!)
Visiting Dambatenne Tea Factory, in 3 parts:
Haputale and around: