At the Nanu Oya railway station, located about 27 kilometres from Sri Lanka, I am awaited by a rickshaw, a lightweight two-wheeled carriage which, on this occasion, is pulled by a young local.
Once I am on the vehicle – a common means of transport in Asian countries – we set out on a journey which is to take us to the island’s vast tea plantations.
We go along a road littered with bumps and sudden bends, leading us towards the green of the tea plantations.
We are immersed in the greenness of the tea plantations, a huge area covering hundreds of hectares where, as we move forward, we can make out the brightly coloured clothing of the tea pluckers, women who collect the leaves, one by one and by hand, from which Ceylon tea, one of the most highly-valued varieties in the world, is made.
Equipped with baskets tied to their backs with strings and with a third eye painted on their foreheads to remind us of their Tamil origin, the pluckers deftly select the leaves most suitable for preparing the tea. All day long, whenever the basket is full, the collected leaves are deposited in the processing machinery.
Finally, once the daily harvest is over, at the end of the day, I go to the plantation storehouse to try the harvested leaves. Having a cup of Ceylon tea while enjoying the magnificent view over the plantations is a highly satisfying experience. It is authentic liquid gold, given that every sip is a pleasure, with the delicate movement of the teaspoon and the blend of aromas and flavours.