When you hear tea plantation, you see hazy views, chilly weather and a cup of boiling tea, that’s what you picture, right? Nothing can be more soothing than experiencing it in real life. One of the world’s highest tea plantations, Kolukkumalai, offers you that. Being surrounded by rugged mountains, the region offers soothing, panoramic views.
The British established the tea estate during the 1930s. The reason behind the uniqueness of this tea estate is that it still prefers the traditional method of making tea over the modern mechanized system. All the equipment and process used to manufacture tea dates back to the colonial era.
High-quality organic tea
The tea here is subjected to the traditional way of treatment. Firstly, the tea is hand-picked and put through the process of controlled dying. After that, it is put to withering & fermenting. The tea that is brewed proves to be lighter in color and more flavourful. Also, they will let you customize your own cuppa under the “Make Your Tea” program. This is the only region in the South where you can get one of the most flavourful and highest qualities of tea.
Sinna P.J, the owner of two properties of the estate, said that the quality of the tea depends upon the height of the altitude. The distinctive aroma and flavor are a result of a higher altitude. Avoiding the use of mechanized ways is yet another reason why the tea has all the flavors intact. What makes the tea different from others is its medium-toned and clean fragrance. Tourists from other parts of the world also visit here to witness the jaw-dropping scenic view and experience the best quality tea.
Story behind the establishment of this Plantation
Back in the 1870s, John Daniel Munro leased this land for the cultivation of different types of crops under the Agricultural Societies and NTLP. However, the tea cultivation was initiated by a European inhabitant, A.H. Sharp. He planted tea on an area of 50 acres during the 1880s. Eventually, the tea plantation spread through the area and reached the borders of Tamil Nadu.
Though the infrastructure went through some development, the process followed for the production of tea still remains the same. It sounds weird that no pesticides or fertilizers are used here, but it is what it is. Hear this out if you still have doubts. As the region is located at an altitude of 7,310 feet above the sea level, the growth of pest is pretty much nothing. Hence, all the natural elements of soil are retained.
Major Source of Income
The tea plantation and the adjoining factory are the only sources of livelihood for people who reside in the region. Most of the workers have been brought from the Tamil Nadu region. Despite the challenging chilly environment, the workers do not step back. This is partly because they receive monthly salary along with schooling for their children, accommodation, and healthcare. All these are way more than what they could’ve asked for.
No use of digital and modern machines
When you enter the factory, you cannot notice even one computer or digital machine. From rolling the hand-picked leaves and cooling them off to fermentation and drying, everything is done through the traditional way. Machines that are used there are from the ’40s &’50s. One can check that from the labels pasted over the machine from the English manufacturers.
You’d be amazed by the fact that how machines like those were brought up to the factory using only manpower—the task of pushing it up to the factory involved danger and extremely hard labor. The road up to the factory is quite narrow, and therefore, it prevents the passing of a truck. This is why 100s of men were required to push it up.
How to Reach?
Kolukkumalai tea estate is located 38 km far from Munnar and is accessible only by a jeep from the main town. Journey to the hill top will take around one and a half hour.
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam in Munnar is the nearest railway station, which will be 130 km away from Kolukkumalai. Book a jeep, taxi, or get your vehicle to reach your destination from Munnar. Also, you can board a bus from cities like Thrissur, Madurai, and Thiruvananthapuram.
Nearest Airport: The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is present in the Munnar town, which is somewhat 125 km far from your destination.
If you fancy breath-taking scenic beauty and the aroma of rich-flavored tea plants, then this will be heaven for you. The tea board has also honored the Kolukkumalai tea with the Golden leaf award. Now that you probably know everything about the region pack your bags today. Book your tickets today and get ready to wake up to the smell of rich and vibrant tea.