Come, oh come, ye tea-thirsty restless ones—the kettle boils, bubbles and sings, musically.
- Rabindranath Tagore
Tea vacations are especially designed for travelers with itchy feet and a yen for a good cup of tea. In a time when many inveterate travelers have been there and done that, Tea vacations, like vineyard vacations, culinary vacations and craft-based holidays, offer something different. When you go on a Tea Vacation, you get a chance to enjoy not only great vistas in clement weather (for the world over, tea grows in temperate climes and picturesque slopes) but a chance to see exactly how the leaves of Camellia Sinensis are processed to become your favourite tipple.
Best Destinations for Tea Tourists
Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage..
Ceylon or Sri Lanka is one of the top destinations for travelers interested in tea. Mark Twain called it a “beautiful and most sumptuously tropical island”, and for good reason – Sri Lanka has rolling hills covered with tea bushes that meander down to stunning beaches, a fabulous culture and shopping options that range from spices to semi precious stones to elephants… depending upon your proclivities. Tea is Ceylon is very much a British legacy, so expect to find colonial bungalows, brown sahibs and Gentleman’s Clubs.
With some 35,000 tea estates, India is home to three distinctly different tea growing regions -- Assam (far northeast India), the hills of Darjeeling (northeastern India) and Nilgiris (in south India). Assam is the largest tea-producing region in the world. Much of its tea is produced in low-lying areas, providing picturesque views as well as great cups of strong black Assam tea. With lush rolling hills and a wet climate reminiscent of Scotland, Munnar in Kerala is one of India’s best known tea tourism destinations. At an altitude of 5000 feet, this pretty hill town lies at the confluence of three rivers - Nallathani, Kundale and Muthirapuzha. The three streams later join the Periyar river and finally the Arabian Sea. Darjeeling, the home of India’s (and indeed the world’s) finest teas, offers the highest altitudes and the most picturesque locales for tea lovers. Like in Ceylon, tea growing in India is also a British legacy. So in addition to tea-scapes, tourists can expect to find interesting relics of the Raj, burra sahibs and other glimpses of a bygone era.
Range of Activities Possible on a Tea Holiday
Sweeping lawns and swimming pools. English gardens filled with roses, dew-filled agapanthus and spring crocus. Tea on the lawn, with Dundee cake, scones, strawberries and cream… Tennis, swimming, croquet and indoor board games all come together for a leisurely lifestyle…
This is how a Sri Lankan tea tourism company describes the scope of activities in a tea estate.
Getting better acquainted with tea is what most people want to and expect to do while on a tea vacation. Most tea gardens organize visits to the factory, where guests may watch tea being plucked, sorted, dried and processed. Some even organize special demonstrations and workshops on tea appreciation.
Other than these, there are a whole lot of activities possible on holiday to a tea estate. Walking, hiking and mountain biking are all delightful ways of seeing the landscape, flora and fauna of a tea garden up close. Also, some tea gardens that are open to tourists also offer horse riding, which enable tourists to survey the land pretty much as the British burra sahibs did one century ago.
What to Pack for a Tea Vacation
When packing for a tea vacation, it may be helpful to keep the following tips in mind.
- Tea is usually grown in cool and humid climates, so carry water-proof shoes, rainwear and spare socks.
- Carry lots of insect repellants and/or anti-itch gel.
- Make sure you check with your doctor before the holiday and take your malaria and flu shots.
- Hand sanitizer
- Torch and extra batteries.
- Carry a well equipped first aid kit, since most tea estates are relatively far from civilization and chemist shops. Make sure your kit has these basics –
- Antiseptic cream
- Pain relief medicines
- Fever relieving medicines
- Anti-allergics (in case of bug bites)
- Sachets of oral rehydration mixtures (in case of stomach upsets)
- Any medicines you might be having for a chronic illness.
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