This month Alison had the honour of visiting the spectacular tea country of Sri Lanka.  One of her first visits was to the amazing Amba Estate, a fully organic tea garden and farm in the lush region of Ella in the central highlands, and home of our hand-rolled Amba Ceylon tea. 

Amba is a very inspiring place not only because the tea from here is so good, but also because it operates as a successful social entreprise and is proof that another model of tea production is possible in Sri Lanka. 

Only small volumes of tea are made due to the quality of the leaf required and the amount of craftsmanship needed to hand craft each tea.  The plucking standard here is very high; only one leaf and a bud (compared to two leaves and a bud normally).  The design of the factory itself is deliberately very simple. The intention is to create a model that other local, small-scale farmers can easily replicate. 

Employees at Amba recieve a fixed monthly salary (as opposed to a daily wage). Amba also shares 10% of its revenue (and not just profit) so employees are also more incentivised.  This is very unusual in Sri Lanka where most of the tea estates operate on a model which hasn't changed since colonial times whereby tea workers work as indentured labourers for a minimal daily way of no more than US$3/day.

The 26 acres of land that makes up the estate is fertilised by Amba’s own herd of resuce cows. The tea bushes are free of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Trees and legumious plants are used for shading and also add nitrogen to the soil. In this incredibly biodiverse and lush terrain, herbs and spices also grow alongside tea. 

Alison spent time tasting teas with Neethanjana, the production manager and head teamaker.  Alison loved the hand-tied white tea stars, and slow withered green tea which has a floral freshness to it. A firm favourite remains the hand-rolled black tea from here with its complex taste of citrus and chocolate. Try here



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