Tea originated in China over 5000 years ago, and subsequently spread all over the world. Today, it is one of the most popular beverages globally. For me, when I’m drinking really good tea, I’m in heaven; I can’t get enough of the good stuff. While many companies sell tea (or rather tea dust), you don’t know the state of being in tea euphoria until you’ve tried the full leaf. For that, why not go to the source? The continent of Asia produces the majority of tea today, so let’s take a look at its best tea estates. These top estates are not only great for producing tea, but are a tourist’s delight as well.
Glenburn Tea Estate and Boutique Hotel
This tea estate was founded by a Scottish tea firm in 1859. Subsequently, ownership transferred to the Prakashes, one of India’s famous, tea-planting families. The latter has been running the estate for over a century and currently, the fourth generation of the renowned family are at the helm, so it is a tea estate with a rich history.
Glenburn Tea Estate is considered one of the best, because of its fabulous proximity to the gorgeous Himalayas, its stately architecture, delicious cuisine, and high-quality tea, of which Glenburn grows a wide variety of white, oolong, black, and green teas. The taste of each tea depends upon the method of production and the time of the year.
Tasting the tea at Glenburn is such a treat after taking a tour of the estate. The tour begins with an introduction on how tea is tasted, cultivated, and produced. Then, the visitors are taken to an actual tea factory to witness tea manufacturing. After you understand how it is made, you taste the tea. Understanding the labor and experience that the estate brings to bear in making you the perfect cup of tea makes the experience that much sweeter. The grand finale consists of a guide escorting the tourists to the tea fields where they meet the Glenburn tea picker workers. Visitors can later sit on the riverfront and go boating in the natural pools.
Other things to do at the Glenburn Tea Estate, include fishing, massage treatments, cooking classes, and beauty regimens.
You can visit Glenburn all year round. An advanced 50% reservation fee is required for reservations, with complete payment made 30 days before your arrival date. For more information, visit Glenburn Tea Estate’s website at http://www.glenburnteaestate.com. Glenburn Tea Estate (Tourism Division), DLX Ltd., Kanak Building 41, Chowringhee Road, Kolkata – 71, West Bengal, India
Marukyu Koyamaen Estate
Kyujiro Koyama, in the Genroku era (1688-1704), undertook the farming and manufacturing of tea in Ogura in Uji, a city in the southern outskirts of Kyoto. Over time, his descendants discovered and perfected better, more efficient processes to cultivate, treat, manufacture, and carefully inspect their tea in order to become preeminent across the world, a name synonymous with high-quality tea. In fact, Marukyu’s motto is “Making teas with quality as the highest priority.” The eighth generation of the family, which introduced Marukyu tea to the rest of the world beyond Japan, currently runs the award-winning tea estate.
Known for its superior matcha, Marukyu makes the following varieties: Tenju, Choan, Eiju, Unkaku, Kinrin, Wako, Yuen, Chigi no Shiro, Isuzu, Aoarashi and more. They even proffer the different recommendations from the masters at each of Japan’s schools of tea. Beyond matcha, Marukyu also produces Gyokuro (as well as Karigane, Jinko & Konacha, all variations of Gyokuro), Kabusecha, Sencha, Hojicha, Genmaicha & Kawayanagi. Just thinking about all that delicious tea puts me in joyful mood.
Are you ready to taste Marukyu’s highly-rated matcha in a tea ceremony? Then, take Marukyu’s tour. Initially, you and other individuals in your small tour group are ushered into a quiet, semi-dark movie theater to view a video explaining and depicting the intricacies of matcha tea manufacturing. Then, you visit the actual matcha processing equipment, tea inspection room, and finally, the tea ceremony room. There, you can try your hand at preparing matcha, which is an art form, and then, you imbibe and savor. Cue the euphoria.
In your tea euphoria, don’t forget to take in the gorgeousness that is Uji and the Kyoto Prefecture.
To visit Marukyu and to take the tour, you’ll need to submit your application online (http://www.marukyu-koyamaen.co.jp/english) at least seven (7) days in advance of your visit, and visiting is generally possible only on weekdays. Visiting days are from Monday through Friday, from 10 AM to 12 PM and 1 PM to 4 PM. In May, Saturday is occasionally made available for visiting; be sure to contact Marukyu for specific dates. Marukyu Koyamaen Tea Estate, Terauchi 86, Ogura-cho, Uji-shi, Kyoto, Japan, 611-0042
Herman Tea Estates
This is a worldwide, luxury tea company. It is family owned and situated at a salubrious and beautiful location in Southern Sri Lanka. Herman has been recognized by the National Chamber of Exporters as the “Best Small Scale Exporter.”
Herman is the sole tea estate in the world located close to the ocean which gives its teas unique flavors. While it was awarded “Most Innovative Teas in the World” at the Anuga Food Fair in Cologne, Germany, its luxury teas are world famous. The proprietor, Herman Gunaratne, personally oversees and creates the wide range of teas, and the high quality of its teas is highly esteemed.
Herman’s collection of delicious spice teas includes masala chai, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger infused teas. They have a wide range of green teas as well. Herman has an exclusive collection of exquisite, refined, gourmet teas, named Herman’s Signature Selection. These teas do not have genetically-modified raw ingredients and are gluten free. Don’t miss the Virgin White tea, the rarest of all white teas, which is the specialty of Herman Tea Estates. It’s so unique in that even in its harvesting and processing, the tea leaves are untouched by human hands. In true Chinese Imperial tradition, your lips are the first human contact with the delicate, flavorful, antioxidant-filled brew.
Guided tea tours of the plantation are free and as a finale, visitors are treated to delicious, complimentary pastries and a pot of tea at the owner’s home. You may visit all year round and any day of the week between 8 AM and 5 PM. For further information, visit www.hermanteas.com. Handunugoda Tea Factory and Museum, Tittagalla, Ahangama, Sri Lanka.