Lover’s Leap (a western tea estate) is one of the best tea gardens in Sri Lanka. During its peak season (Feb/Mar) this estate’s production is characterized by a delightful flavour that is astringent and lively. The best weather for producing quality tea is highlighted by cool nights, dry weather and bright sunny days. These conditions force the tea bush to expend all its energies into the new growth leaves giving the tea its best flavour. During Feb. and Mar. the cool moisture laden northeast monsoon winds after traveling across the Bay of Bengal ‘hit’ the island. The winds rise as they cross the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. As the air rises it cools and the moisture condenses giving rise to very wet conditions on the east side of the central divide but dry and cool rain shadow conditions on the western side. Not surprisingly, the western tea estates peak in quality. The top elevations of Lovers Leap very often are in the clouds. Regularly when you are at the peak you look down onto the clouds with brilliant sunshine and blue sky above. Lover Leap received it name because situated on the estate is a cliff where lovers would throw themselves over if they were jilted or they were not allowed to marry one another.
Not far from Lovers Leap is a lovely hotel/inn called ‘The Hill Club’. The ambiance is circa 1910. Deep leather lounge chairs comfortably display 80 years of wear, windows are open and ramshackled shutters slap in the breeze and you are addressed as ‘The Master’ and ‘The Madam’. Before dinner you must don a dinner jacket and tie, polished black shoes (shorts with knee socks are ok), repose in the bar for a predinner drink and discussion. After the second drink the maitre’d announces that dinner is served. Ladies enter the dining room first and are escorted to their reserved table; once the ladies are seated the men are invited to enter and take their seats. The waiters wear white gloves and deftly handle the serving utensils as they serve each table. Wine is served and after sorbet a port is offered, followed by retirement to the bar for one last drink and cigar. The more adventurous will wander across the 17th fairway to the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club bar (careful of the snakes!) noisily closing the bar at 2:00 am.
This tea is a true Orange Pekoe grade. Interestingly, the term Orange Pekoe has little to do with quality as it is a size grading term. Orange Pekoe in true tea jargon stands for whole leaf. When you pour boiling water on this tea you will see how the leaf uncurls and expands quite dramatically, a process called “the agony of the leaf”.