Behind the Scenes of the Dambatenne Tea Factory in Sri Lanka’s Haputale

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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.

Dambatenne Tea Factory in Sri Lanka entrance

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.

Dambateene Tea Factory upstairs

You can buy a packet of fresh Dambatenne tea for 300 Rupees, but the more refined Simondou costs 1,100 Rupees.

Tea for sale at Dambatenne

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:

Arrival in Haputale sign

  • 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!)

Dambatenne Tea Factory Sri Lanka

Visiting Dambatenne Tea Factory, in 3 parts:

Haputale and around:

Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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