Between these two high plateaus Horton Plains and Nuwara Eliya lies the tea-growing district of Dimbula (or, as it is sometimes spelled, Dimbulla). The name is derived from that of the valley which lies at the heart of the region, surrounded by the sub-districts of Bogawanthalawa, Dickoya, Kotagala, Maskeliya, Nanu-Oya and Talawakelle.
Its isolation ended with the coming of tea in the 1870s. Dimbula was, in fact, one of the earliest districts to be planted in the new crop. The teas of the district were found to produce a distinctive flavour of their own, one that lovers of fine tea prize to this day. This happy discovery brought settlement and commerce to the formerly uninhabited region, though Dimbula and its sub-districts remain wild and thinly populated to this day. Most local residents are plantation workers and their families; the remainder also tend to be occupied in work that serves the plantation industry in other ways, such as supply and transport.
Dimbula teas are characterized as ‘high-grown’; the regional definition specifies an elevation of between 1100 m and 1600 m, but in practice the region’s estates all stand at an altitude of over 1250. It is wet and misty for much of the year, and western-facing estates are drenched by the southwest monsoon between May and September; however, Dimbula also benefits from the cool, dry winds of the western ‘quality season’, a period that begins around the turn of the year and continues until March or early April. Dimbula estates yield their best teas during this season, when the air is crisp and cool by day while the nights are cold and windy.
The teas of Dimbula, like all high-grown teas, are slow-growing and small-leaved. The higher the elevation at which it was picked, the greater will be the brightness and freshness of the liquor in the cup. This is particularly the case with tea from the Nanu-Oya sub-district, whose high altitude and proximity to Nuwara Eliya results in a tea that bears noticeable similarities to the products of that region. Other sub-districts, such as Dickoya, produce a darker, more strongly flavoured tea.
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Source: Sri Lanka Tea Board