About the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel – an authentic, leaf to cup experience.
Sri Lanka is known for many things, pristine beaches, incredible forests, and hospitable people. However, when most people think of Sri Lanka, the first thing that comes to mind is tea. With tea as the country’s main export, visitors can find dozens of various tea plantations spread throughout. For those who are tea lovers, it simply would not be an authentic Sri Lankan experience without visiting a tea plantation at some point during your travels.
We were honoured to be one of the first guests to experience the newest addition to the Theme Resort & Spas hotels, Tea & Experience Factory Hotel Located among the highest mountain range of Sri Lanka, Pidurutalagala Mountain, the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
What makes this hotel so special and unique is its history. As an 1860’s refurbished tea plantation, one can expect to see its colonial roots at every corner. The team was adamant about restoring this plantation with as little, to no work as possible. Everything about the structure of the original tea plantation was kept the same, with only minor repairs made. This is what makes this property so spectacular! As guests, you are really made to feel as though you are living in a different era.
The Tea & Experience Factory Hotel is home to 16 beautifully decorated rooms, along with 1 dorm room. Therefore, whether you are travelling with your family, as a couple, or even with a group of friends, there is appropriate accommodation for all!
The rooms themselves are very spacious and comfortable. Due to the fact that the hotel is located among the mountains, it can get a bit cold. However, each room is fully equipped with a small fire place heater, perfect to warm yourself up after a cold day out adventuring!
The interior decor of the rooms shows a strong emphasis on re-used and cost effective materials. A combination of antiques, with earthy tones is what makes the interior of this hotel so special. You can admire the attention to detail and the great lengths the team went to keep the original framing of this old tea plantation.
The restaurant at the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers guests an extensive menu with a large variety of options. There will definitely be something that peaks your interest. For breakfast they offer a traditional western options, along with classic local Sri Lankan dishes. At lunch be sure to try their incredible pastas, salads, or curries, and for dinner, check out their wine selection! The dining area is attached to the hotel which makes it super easy to have a proper fill up before your daily activities.
Spa & Pool
The restored tea factory has three stories and the third is being transformed and developed into a spa. The spa at the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel is still currently being built as of writing. However, there will be facilities for a sauna, jacuzzi and yoga. In addition to this, they also have dedicated masseuse for both male and female guests.
The hotel also has a beautiful pool on the grounds which overlooks the trees and nature. Although it was raining during our entire stay. We could imagine that the pool would be a great spot to relax after a busy day of tea plucking!
Probably the most noteworthy part about the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel is the variety of activities the property has to offer. From local trekking, waterfall hikes, to the entire leaf to cup experience, this hotel offers so many fun activities for its guests.
As the property is located on a large tea plantation there is ample room for trekking. Our favourite trek was through the local village to a waterfall that provides water to the whole town. Because the trek itself wasn’t hard, it only took around two hours there and back. During the trek, you are gifted with the beautiful mountain ranges and valleys of Sri Lanka. Overall, the trek was a magical experience for us both and one we will never forget.
Additionally, as first time guests, we were given the opportunity to visit a local Hindu temple. Upon arrival you are taught about the moonstone at the entrance, which is there as a symbol welcoming guests to enter. Once inside, we were treated to a traditional Kovil blessing by the local priest. It was a very special moment.
Leaf to Cup
The main reason to visit this hotel is the leaf to cup experience. Here they want to teach visitors how Sri Lankan tea is manufactured, from start to finish. The leaf to cup experience can generally take a whole day with many breaks in between.
The first part of the experience is the tea plucking. You are greeted by the hotel manager Supun. Of whom, used to run a number to various tea plantations throughout Sri Lanka. Thus, he is an expert in this craft and you will definitely want to listen to him. He did a thorough job of teaching us all about the history of tea in Sri Lanka, including all the tips and tricks needed for plucking tea leaves.
The trick we were taught, is to pluck two leaves and a bud! This will apparently give you the best tasting tea and the highest grade. But before heading off to the tea fields, you will need your basket. This is where you are given a traditional tea basket and a strap to place on your head. This make look silly, but it’s the most comfortable way to pick tea leaves that’s been developed for well over 100 years.
After plucking the tea leaves, you are then brought back to the main building where they manufacture the leaves into tea. Before starting, you will have a quick tea break and plenty of time to change into something more comfortable, even a shower if needed. Now, the fun part! Because this is where you will make your well earned tea from the leaves you have plucked. Here the head of manufacturing will be take you through the process of how the tea is made from start to finish. The process of drying, to rolling, cutting, fermenting, heating, grading, and finally, the finished product. The whole process is engaging and you are made to take part from beginning to end!
After the process of leaf, to manufacture, it comes time for the cup. Here you are given the chance to taste the tea you have just made. With both the head of manufacture and the general manager by your side, you will get to judge and taste your tea. Similar to wine tasting using slurps to get the depth of the tea, you’ll have some real appreciation for the taste.
The overall experience was very humbling, from leaf to cup you are given the unique and authentic chance to create some amazing tea in Sri Lanka. The plantation employs 287 tea pluckers and the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel’s staff is made up of 80% locals who live in the surrounding villages. Because of this, we found that the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel is really trying to make a difference. We are all about supporting business that give back to their local community.
In conclusion, our stay at the Tea & Experience Factory Hotel was one we will never forget. We made lifelong friends with the entire staff and were truly honoured to be one of the firsts guests to experience this property. We will definitely be back the next time we are in Sri Lanka!
If you’re interested in booking your stay at this amazing hotel and experience, Click Here.