After nearly a two year wait, I am back in Sri Lanka visiting plantations and renewing friendships. It feels great to be back.
There are a variety of reasons to be visiting. We are always looking to improve our assortment and visiting both current and new estates allows me to taste new and exciting teas. I think I am up to over 500 cups so far. In addition, a visit like this allows me to be introduced to possible new products for the PMD product range.
Over the last three weeks I have visited twelve estates and by the time this trip is finished the number will be close to 20 and I will have clocked up nearly 5000 Km in the car.
The first plantation I visited was the Lumbini estate. Lumbini is a family-owned enterprise established in 1975 and is now run by the founder's son Chaminda Jayawardene. Family values and close local community relationships remain so important to the Lumbini culture. Lumbini is in the Valley of Deniyaya in the low country, in the region of Sabaragamuwa, and although it classed as “low country” the tea grows at 451 meters elevation! On the drive to Deniyaya I was amazed by the steep turns and exposure as we drove up to the estate. The Lumbini valley itself is the highest in southern Sri Lanka.
Lumbini tea bushes grow bordering the Sinharaja rainforest. With its proximity to the rainforest, the ‘terroir’ heavily influences the teas produced. The air is so pure that it significantly helps the development of the tea’s taste profile during the oxidation process, and the pure air combined with the fertile soils and elevation produce some of the best teas I have tasted from the south.
Their hand-picked teas are rolled on Kitul palm wood rollers which are unique in the tea making world, as Kitul is an indigenous tree to Sri Lanka. This type of wood allows for a delicate roll of the leaf as the flavours are carefully extracted, as compared to the harsher metal-based rollers that can affect the final flavour.
I am excited to be bringing their teas back to the UK and the Lumbini teas will soon be available at pmdtea.com. Their Sinharaja Wiry Tips will be available over the next few months and is one of the world’s most highly sought-after teas. Lovers of New Vithanakande will enjoy this tea.