Probably the best-known of Sri Lanka’s tea-growing districts, Nuwara Eliya is also the most rugged and mountainous, with the highest average elevation. Rainfall is moderate except during the dry season, which falls between February and April. Nights are cold and sometimes frosty.
Historically speaking, Nuwara Eliya is a relatively new place. The town from which the district takes its name sits perched on a plateau 1,868 m above sea level, under the shadow of Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, Pidurutalagala. Almost inaccessible in olden times due to the precipitous, jungle-clad terrain surrounding it, this scenic plateau was effectively uninhabited when it was discovered by an English explorer in 1818. Impressed by its magnificent scenery and climate, Sir Edward Barnes, the British governor of the time, resolved to turn the locale into the similar of Ceylon, a fashionable hill-station to which the government and society of the capital, Colombo, could repair during the hottest and unhealthiest months of the year. He accomplished this by the simple expedient of building a house there himself (it is now the Grand Hotel) and occupying it every year between March and April. ‘Newralia’ thus became, for a few weeks every year, the capital of colonial Ceylon.
The tea produced here sets it apart from lower-grown varieties. High altitude and year-round low temperatures produce a very slow-growing bush with unusually small leaves that take on an orange hue – just a hint against the blackness – after withering. The infused leaf acquires a greenish-yellow tone, and the infusion in the cup is the palest among all the regional varieties of Ceylon Tea.
As with all Ceylon Tea, Nuwara Eliya is available in several different grades. Excluding certain exotic varieties, the most sought-after is whole-leaf orange pekoe (OP); slightly less costly, though still expensive, is broken orange pekoe (BOP). Generally speaking, the smaller the leaf particle size, the stronger and less subtle the tea.
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Source: Sri Lanka Tea Board