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Tea Tasting in Colombo

by Tom Armstrong

Tea enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to indulge their taste buds in Sri Lanka. Whether it be tasting fine teas in hotels and cafes across the country or visiting the plantations themselves and trying cups direct from the factories, Sri Lanka offers some of the finest teas and tea experiences in the world.

I recently visited John Keells Holdings in Colombo, the country’s largest and oldest tea auction house. Here I was fortunate to get a tour of the tea room by the MD of the company, who showed me the various types of tea that the company assess before sending to auction.

In the plantation factories you tend to see a narrow variety of teas that are produced on that individual estate. In the Colombo auction rooms you get to sample teas from every province and plantation in the country. The variety of teas and flavours was quite staggering, and I tried as many as I possibly could. The art of tasting is not to drink but to swirl the tea around the back of you taste glands and then spit it out again.

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I was particularly impressed with the professional tasters and how they could identify extremely subtle differences in flavour and consistency. They use this knowledge to set a guide price before the stocks are sent to the auction floor. It was also interesting to learn which flavours appeal to different regional markets and buyers.

We can offer this trip to guests who are particularly interested in Tea, so if you’re in Colombo and fancy slurping your way around the tea room be sure to let us know in advance.

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