Meet Chaminda of Lumbini Tea Valley Ceylon!

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Stories About Tea welcomes our second international guest writer, who will contribute once a month! Meet Chaminda Jayawardana from Lumbini Tea Valley Ceylon, who specializes in manufacturing tea in the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka. Read our introduction interview!

Who are you and what do you do within the tea industry?
I am Chaminda Jayawardana and the managing director of Lumbini Tea Valley Ceylon. In total I have 24 years of experience in tea planting, specialty tea and tea exporting. Currently I am a tea planter, tea manufacturer, tea taster, tea exporter, but most of all I am a tea crazy tea lover!

When did your passion for tea start and how?
It started from the time I ran through the tea bushes with my sisters in Lumbini tea valley when I was 5 years old. I also have fond memories of going to Lumbini tea factory with my father and running between the withering troughs full of green tea leaves.

Can you tell what you do at Lumbini?
I look after the total administration of Lumbini Tea Valley including tea planting, manufacturing, tasting and exporting. Apart from this I look after 200 members of our work force and 1500 small farmer families who supplies their leafs to us.

How did Lumbini start and how big are you now?
It started in the day my father planted the first tea bush in this valley in 1975. And he built a small tea factory which was sufficient to manufacture his own leaf, about 1000kg of green leaf per day. Today we manufacture about 10000kg of green leaf per day.

Can you describe what is so special about The Valley?
Lumbini tea valley is situated 450 m above sea level in the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka. This is the highest elevation in Ruhuna and we are situated just next to the only virgin rainforest in Sri Lanka called Sinharaja, which is about 20000 hectares of virgin rainforest. We are just 1 and half hours away from the southern coast, so this unique location gives us a totally different taste than all other teas in Sri Lanka.

What are your standout teas?
We have several teas that have been awarded international prizes. Let me introduce two to your readers. The first is Lumbini Sinharaja Wiry Tips which has won 30 awards locally and internationally. This is the most awarded tea in the world. Secondly Lumbini Golden breakfast tea which has won 10 international award as the best breakfast tea.

What do you do at Lumbini in January?
We start the year at Lumbini tea valley with all the religious activities of Buddhism and Hindu religions, which are the religions of our workers and ourselves. Every January 1st we have lot of celebrations with the new year and we start the work with our team after praying for lord Budda and Hindu gods as well. And then we share a special Srilankan time called milk rice which is cooked with coconut milk. Then there is a tradition in which we give the whole team the first money of the year. After that we go to the tea fields with them and do the rituals to the tea bush and start the first pickings of the year. The workers prefer to get the first leafs from me to their sacks. On January 15th Hindu workers have a festival called Thaipongal festival in which they cook their rice and offer to the gods and parade the village with the statue of their god. All these festivals are happening in January apart from the normal tea picking and manufacturing process.

What is your personal favorite tea and why?
Lumbini Sinharaja Wiry Tips. It is the unique fortune tea of the valley and it has given us 30 awards. It is the signature tea which took Lumbini tea valley to international tea lovers.

Is there a favorite food pairing with a tea you would like to recommend?
Sinharaja Wiry Tips is really good with a pasta dish. Lumbini Golden breakfast should be combined with apple pie and Lumbini afternoon delight goes perfectly with a rice cracker .

What is the tea culture like in Sri Lanka?
Srilankan tea culture in villages is always the same. People have their cup of tea with a piece of jaggery (a solid piece of sweet made out of palm sap). And sometimes the afternoon tea is drunk with a savory.

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1 thought on “Meet Chaminda of Lumbini Tea Valley Ceylon!”

  1. Gayan Rukshan

    A wonderful read! Cheers Lumbini! And cheers chaminda, a fantastic Tea Artist! Complements from a tea lover!

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