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59 4th Ave
New York, NY, 10003

212-253-1343

Saffron 59 Catering is New York City's premier caterer and event planner specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine. For over 11 years, Saffron 59 has successfully orchestrated memorable affairs with attention to every detail.

Blog

Travel: Sri Lanka: The Kingdom of Ceylon Tea

Irene Khin Wong



Irene Khin & Kirchhayn Plantation Tea Plucker

While traveling in Sri Lanka, we stayed at the Kirchhayn Bungalow in Bandarawela after spending a few days in the Cultural Triangle. From there, we began our drive toward Nuwara Eliya where the roads twisted and winded through the hills 1400 meter above sea level--to the home of endless tea estates and where Lipton gets their tea. Some plantations date back to 1847, with tea varieties ranging from Ceylon orange pekoe, green tea, silver needle...the highest quality teas in the world.

The property has been owned by three generations of the Bostock family dating back to 1884. At the estate, Butler Mohamad brought out a beautiful basket of fresh fruits grown from the plantation, warm baskets of roti, a variety of Sri Lankan traditional dishes and jam with apple wood. He garnished and adorned our trays with cloves of cinnamon and fragrant Camilias plucked straight from the garden.

The estate has 50 acres of tea plantation with two female pluckers assigned to each hectre with an average basic salary 400 rupees; a day’s worth of work for the equivalent of $4.00 US. They pick an average of 2,000 kilo a day, while male workers attend to pruning & checking the acidity of soil and magnesium sulfate levels; adjusting and replanting if necessary.

Recently after returning to New York, my good friend Sebatian Beckwith, a frequent travel companion to Asia from In Pursuit of Tea, explained to me the techniques of proper tea brewing and that the tea grown in Sri Lanka is the Assam varietal.

Early Morning Tea Picking
Silver Tip Tea Leaf