Tea growing at the estate dates back to the first wave of tea cultivation in Sri Lanka over 150 years ago. In the early days, the garden was run by Scottish planters. Since then, it has passed through the hands of several Sri Lankan owners, and today Diyanillakelle is run by the Shriya family.
The latest chapter in the estate’s history is one of restoration and renewal. Five years ago, the current owners set about revitalising the garden to address dwindling output and stagnant tea prices. With advice and support from several world-renowned tea specialists and manufacturers, the garden has undergone a deep transformation.
In the last few years, the fields down to every tea bush have been given careful attention from pruning to bush sanitation to be able to produce exceptional raw materials. The factory has been rebuilt, refitted, and transformed to a high quality/low quantity production line with custom made troughs, rollers and electric dryers.
And the result? Our Forest Noir is the best example from Diyanillakelle of its new lease of life as a producer of fine teas. Made using only the bud and two leaves from quality cultivar plants that are organically produced, this delicate black tea is bright and sweet, with aromas of rose and honeysuckle, and a hint of mango fruitiness.
Improving the quality of the leaf and production process to produce better quality of teas like Forest Noir, the sort that sells for high prices, offers Diyanillakelle one way out of the falling commodity tea prices that has badly affected producers of tea in Sri Lanka in recent decades. It also means that workers’ pay is not linked simply to plucking volumes which is common practice in large commercial estates.
In the past tea from Diyanillakelle would typically pass from the garden to the auction, to multiple traders, packers, shippers and importers before finally reaching the end customers. Now the owners are starting to build direct relationships with end buyers, cutting out the number of steps of the process, a move that not only increases the garden’s income but also means fresher tastier tea for end consumers.
By shifting to a focus on the specialty tea, Diyanillakelle is repositioning itself as a more sustainable tea garden, both environmentally and economically, one that’s focused on producing the highest quality tea that can compete with the best in the world.
Taste tea from Diyanillakelle Estate: