I wake up in my hotel, somewhere in the middle of Colombo. My mind still clouded by sleep, I vaguely remember how last night went. I couldn’t sleep, and trust me, I sleep through everything, all kinda sounds. There’s a construction site right next to my hotel, and around 10PM, it was full-on active, and the loud sounds coming from it almost made me fall out of bed. So much for tourism, I guess.
All night long. Literally. After counting to 1000 twice, 240 yoga exercises, a desperate phone call to my boyfriend, and 80 lost thoughts, I lost my mind. I have to sleep before I go to the tea plantation. And I didn’t sleep on the aeroplane either. Somehow, however, I fell vast asleep around 1AM.
Yet, I wake up feeling refreshed. I’m ready for adventure! I take a shower, eat, and go down to the lobby, weighed down by my backpack, cameras and other essentials. It stays exciting, this whole process. Who’s picking me up today? It almost feels like I have a blind date with a mysterious tea farmer. A decent, young guy walks inside. ‘Kiona?’ Yes! I step into the car and we speed through morning traffic to the plantation. Our first stop is the factory and the company’s head office here in Colombo. Everywhere I go, I get greeted by signs and tv’s with my name sprawled across them. The CEO is already standing outside, waiting for me. It’s a big building, including both the factory and an office.
The company started 25 years ago inside a storage space. It looks as if that was a century ago looking at it now. Employees work either inside in the office or factory, or outside on the plantation. There’s a good vibe around this place. I see men and women working in the office, and everyone looks happy to be here. Young and old. We sit down in a spacious room and a man enters with a grand collection of fine china. The cookies smell delicious and on an old trolley, tea is served. This is where I make my first mistake. I politely turn down the offer for sugar and milk. Oh. The tea is so immensely strong. I can’t handle this. My brain screams ERROR, all while my taste buds cringe. They’re not used to this! It’s so bitter! I see the others taking three or more spoons full of sugar, and a decent amount of milk, and mixing the lot profusely. I get it.. Next round I’ll be applying my travel motto: say yes!
While we speak tea and business, my mind shifts to the reality of the situation. A few years ago, I didn’t even buy tea, and now I’m staring at the print-out of the kilos my company purchased this last year. All the cups of tea, and now I’m right back at the source. Buying tea is quite easy here, within a few days of plucking the leaves they get delivered to us. The farmers harvest to our orders, so it doesn’t get much fresher than that. In Sri Lanka they harvest throughout the whole year, and every two weeks they pluck the fresh top leaves off the bushes. Although, today I am tasting this morning’s harvest. That’s really fresh..