Sabaragamuwa Tea Region
Sabaragamuwa is Sri Lanka’s biggest tea-growing region. The Sabaragamuwa tea growing region covers most of the western and south western faces of the central mountains of the country.
The teas of Sabaragamuwa, like those of Ruhuna, are mainly low-grown. Its estates range in elevation from sea level to around 2,500 feet. The highest estates lie just below the boundaries of the Sinharaja and Peak Wilderness nature reserves and share in the microclimatic conditions produced by the rainforests, cloud forests and high, grassy plains endemic to this region.
As a result, they produce tea of a somewhat different character to that grown at lower elevations in the district. Some of these estates receive the highest rainfall of any in the plantation districts.
Other upper Sabaragamuwa estates receive some weather from the nearby Uva climatic system, which affects the character of the tea they produce in an entirely different way.
Sabaragamuwa produces a fast-growing bush with a long leaf, very black when withered and well suited for ‘rolling’ (see manufacture). The liquor, too, is similar to that of Ruhuna teas, dark yellow-brown with a reddish tint in the dry season, though lightening somewhat with altitude.
The ‘nose’ or aroma, however, is noticeably different from the Ruhuna product, with a hint of sweet caramel, and not quite as strong as the latter. This is ascribed to the reduced monsoon exposure of Sabaragamuwa tea as opposed to that of Ruhuna. The flavour, too, is strongly marked, especially with respect to low-grown examples.
These are general comments, however, and need not apply to all teas produced in Sabaragamuwa. The districts contain a number of sub-districts such as: Ratnapura, Rakwana, Kaltura, Matara & Weligama close to teh Southern coast.