It is difficult to find good tea in Sri Lanka, and here is a photo of the guilty party. Known as a rotorvane, it puts the leaves under enormous pressure and can roll three times the quantity of freshly withered leaves as a traditional roller. The oxidation time can then be reduced to a few minutes because the leaves have been squashed so much.
This procedure is widely used in the mountains in the centre of the country. It has the advantage of increasing yield, but what is the point when you gain strength in lieu of any subtlety of flavour and aroma.
The British had an instinct for comfort. They built magnificent bungalows during the colonial era. These buildings still exist today, surrounded by tea fields, like here in Gorthie (Sri Lanka). I was lucky to stay there recently. It was all very refined: they serve delicious food, and with the first light of dawn you are seduced by the beauty of the garden.
The plantations in central Sri Lanka don’t produce particularly good tea, but they are extremely beautiful. Here, the Maussakelle reservoir really enhances the soft green expanses of the tea fields.
In some regions of Sri Lanka, they produce a tea that is so fine, so broken, so black, it is undrinkable. Or else you have to add milk and sugar, or dilute it with water.
To produce a high-quality tea, you must start by harvesting the leaves carefully; in other words, picking off the end shoot, the bud and the next two leaves. If you take off more leaves, the quality will suffer. So it is important to train the people doing the harvesting and to value their work.