Dick Oya - A special Tea District

Dick Oya is one of my favourite tea growing districts and is in the Central Province of Sri Lanka situated between the towns of Hatton and Maskeliya. Although PMD's spiritual home is in Maskeliya, Dick Oya has always been a special place for me as it’s a good base from which to visit many estates and experience some very good and unusual teas.

Dick Oya is often overlooked by its neighbours Bogowantalawa (The Golden Valley) and Maskeliya, which have traditionally produced some of the Western high grown best teas, however it has much to offer.  

My first estate visit was to Dick Oya Estate which sells its teas under the name of Adisham; This usually happens when an estate has amalgamated with another.  

When visiting Dick Oya estate, you cannot miss it. As you come down the Hatton Road the factory sits on the bend, however you will smell the tea long before you see the building. 

Dick Oya Factory from the road side 

We visited my friend Kapila who is the current Superintendent on the estate to taste his teas. Adisham produces orthodox “Rotorvane” teas typical of the other estates in the western high grown region. PMD aficionados and drinkers of our Planters Breakfast and Afternoon blends will know that these consist of BOP tea grades. So, this visit was to find a base tea for our Breakfast Teas. We were in search of a tea that had strength and colour that could be blended with others successfully to maintain its distinctive high-quality notes. 

Tasting and comparing BOP grades with milk, the cup on the right has a deeper reddish colour 

Adisham teas have a robust, thick but flowery flavour, especially at this time of the year as they come into season and are best tried with milk to see how the cup colour develops. For our Breakfast tea we are looking for a reddish cup when milk is added. Once tea is made on the estate it needs time to settle, and the cup flavour will develop in the coming days and weeks. It is always important to give teas intended for blending, some time to settle before any final blend decisions are made. 

Bridging the Gap between producers and consumers  

Upper Dick Oya

We then travelled to Upper Dick Oya to visit Fordcye estate. Fordcye like Adisham produces orthodox Rotorvane teas however has recently started doing leafy and small batch speciality tea. Fordcye estate's current Superintendent is Manith Jayamanthri with whom I have worked with for many years. I was expecting to taste some BOP grade tea, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were now making leafy and speciality grades. One of their standout speciality teas is known as Peak Wilderness. Manith harvests this from bushes that border the edge of the Peak Wilderness Nature Reserve which offers a direct path to the Holy Sri Pada mountain. 

Fordcye Estate Peak Wilderness Tea a lighter compared to what you would expect from a typical Dick Oya brew 

Their method of tea manufacture differs greatly to that of conventional black teas. After withering the leaf, it is placed into a small mini roller that ruptures the leaf cells and allows the flavour inside the leaf to develop. What makes the cup very light in colour is that the tea is directly fired. Meaning that is not left to oxidise but fed directly into the drier. This type of tea is known as Oolong and Oolong teas vary greatly in colour and flavour, as they are semi oxidised teas that sit between green tea and black tea. 

Fordcye's Peak Wilderness is something very different from what drinkers would expect from a Western high grown tea.

Keep an eye out we will be adding some Peak Wilderness Tea to the web shop.

 Sampling a different brew in the Fordcye bungalow