Friday, September 21, 2007

The Emerald Isle Diaries - 8

My experience with the famous Ceylon tea began as a let down and I mentioned it in one of my earlier pages. Taj Samudra has Orange Pekoe in their menu but it’s absent from their kitchen. Chaga, my colleague came to my rescue with a pack of BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) belonging to the famous Mlesna (pronounced Melesna) Tea Estate and more importantly a small metallic sieve. Now, I brew my own tea inside the comforts of my room and the mornings have become beautiful. Sipping on orange pekoe while staring aimlessly at the sea with ‘Pet Sounds’ as the background score is a great way to begin the day.

Sri Lankans consume a lot of sugar in their cuppa and it can become very frustrating at times, especially when you are used to half a teaspoon of sugar. After the first couple of days, the woman who is responsible for tea / coffee, in my office had to be asked to give sugar separately. Her name is Shakuntala and she is always ready with three questions, whenever she sees me. They are, Tea? Coffee? or Water? She lost everyone she had in the Tsunami of 2004 and she is always full of smile and service.

What we call as ‘black tea’ is referred to as ‘plain tea’ over here and it’s more popular than the one with milk. One can expect the quality of this tea to be usually good (if you can discount the amount of sugar in it) even in the cheapest looking joint.

The hill station of Nuwara Eliya, near Kandy is one of the major tea producing zones. History suggests that the production of tea in Ceylon began after a deadly fungus destroyed most of the coffee crop on the island. The coffee plantation owners realized that they needed to diversify. This was around 1860s.

Though its of fine quality, I’m yet to taste anything close to the Darjeeling variety of Orange Pekoe. But, Shakuntala’s smile and readiness to serve makes up for it.

I will be getting samples of the Ceylon Tea for some of you and then you can give me your opinions. For now, a good friend from India is expected any moment. Charmed by the Diaries, he is flying down to be here for the weekend.

The photograph above is of Chagas gift. The kettle belongs to the Hotel.

11 comments:

Naked said...

Am Haig and hearty after a sugar coated win.

meraj said...

yeah man...whatta win! and the friend has arrived.

Chaga said...

Hey man! There are many more varieties of BOP tea, may be as good as Darjeeling! You got to keep coming back to taste them all.

sara said...

Plain tea, black tea, whatever you want to call it, you are making me dream! My daily fight here in Mumbai is to avoid this damn dairy. Why do they look so satisfied when they bring me this cowly mixture, as if it was a special treat?

Natesh said...

Cool man, thanks for such informative articles.
You are sure giving a boost to the SL tourism industry...

Cheers ;)

alien said...

start charging the government of SL for teh indirect promotion that you are doing and i am sure they will pay you as they seriously need something like this....awesome work and the way you present is fantabulous....cheers!!!!

Omar Cruz said...

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meraj said...

thanks for your largehearted appreciation, Omar
love what i saw, but i aint that rich yet.

cheers!
m

phish said...

dont you even compare anything with darjeeling, you broken orange pekoe drinker you!

ha. just wrote three films on tea. spare some ceylon? maybe i will become nicer.

Chaga said...

Meraj, you got to rush the sipping Ceylon Tea with phish ...

Do certainly agree with Omar Cruz on the writing bit ... Awesome - just as you say.

meraj said...

the ceylon tea meeting happened over drops of sula....many many drops. it was a good evening!