Back at the Heritance Tea Factory, I cannot wait to have a hot shower and then tuck into some delicious English fare at the Goatfell Lounge. I have an inkling that I am about to go wandering, immerse myself in those green plantations after lunch and just let my feet do the walking. Needless to say, I am totally at home in tea country!
Fish, chip and mushy pea lunch consumed, a spot of tea picking is on the agenda. George, the duty manager at the Heritance takes us over to the organic tea factory where work has ended for the day, and the ladies are busy packing freshly made tea. A lady drapes me with a tea pickers sari (over my t-shirt and jeans no less), and adorns my head with a wicker basket. I can barely keep this thing on my head, but I sure am going to try!!! A gentleman, by the name of Raja takes me out to the tea plantation just in front of the hotel. I am a tad bit disappointed – my wandering imagination thought we were going to trek for miles to some tea bushes yonder and do some “real” tea picking, but, I am in for a bit of a reality check here.
Raja shows me how to pluck the “two leaves and a bud” and boy, this is not easy at all. Those tea pickers – kudos to them, plucking and tossing away – they make it look so easy but this is no mean feat, it is hard, hard work and the rolling mist that threatens to come in doesn’t make it easier. It is cold out in the plantation, despite being a stone throw away from the cosy hotel. But, I have to say, I am having fun. Pluck, pluck and toss…and of course, here I am thinking I am tossing my hard picked leaves into the basket only to see M rolling over in peals of laughter as I seem to be tossing the leaves in some other direction and not into the wicker basket atop my head…comic relief!
Sport was definitely not my strong point…and this tea picking exercise seems to have reinforced that!!! It feels like I was picking tea for ages, but it really was only about 45 minutes, enough for me to finally grasp the technique, learn how to toss the fruit of my labour into the basket, not even get it a quarter way full, get almost frostbitten fingers…and then head right back to the mini tea factory.
Back at the organic tea factory, my tea leaves are tossed into the withering loft, where they will join millions of other leaves to eventually become broken orange pekoe fannings which will brew a golden cuppa for someone, somewhere…pretty cool, huh?
A whistle-stop tour of the factory later, we bid adieu to Raja and the kind lady who draped the sari around me and we take a stroll around the plantation. Our footsteps lead us to the most gorgeous cottage, with bushes adorned with every colour and kind of rose that I feel like I am in the dream cottage painting by Thomas Kinkaid. This cannot be real, and as the mist swirls in, I almost feel like I am Alice in Wonderland, and at any minute a little white rabbit holding a watch is going to come bouncing out of the bushes!!
We decide to end this most perfect day with a signature spa massage at the Diviyan Spa. I know I said earlier that the best massage I ever had was at the Tara Angkor in Cambodia….well, forget that, The Diviyan Signature Spa is the epitome of all massages. A combo of shiatsu, hot stone and reflexology….well, a 9 km trek and frostbitten fingers were well worth this treat. Watch out for the taxes in Sri Lanka though, they are a killjoy…but even with these taxes I am content, truly so. Monkey brain truly and finally at rest, I am ready to start the next leg of our journey refreshed and rejuvenated.