At an elevation of 1566 metres above sea level, Sir Thomas Lipton's estate is one of the greatest standing testaments to a legendary man. Although perphaps most famous for his legacy of Lipton Tea, the Scotsman was also famous for being a prolific businessman, advertiser, and yachtsman. His estate sprawls for acres, features tea estates, tea factories, bungalows, and of course the vantage viewing point of Lipton's Seat.
On a recent visit to Thotalagala, a historic planter's bungalow in Haputale converted to swish luxury property, we explored some of Sir Lipton's former haunts. We began with Lipton's Seat, which is really interesting for its view. It's apparently a vantage point from which Lipton used to gaze upon his plantations. However, when we went, it was incredibly misty and cloudy and our view was a uniform grey sheet. Shifani had more luck when she went though, so you can have a look at her gorgeous photos.
We then had a look at Lipton's factory, now known as the Dambatenne Estate Factory. It was built in 1890, and still retains a lot of its original wooden structure and heavy metal measuring instruments. These are fully functional, but look like antique pieces – very cool!
Our guide took us through the entire process, from picking to sorting, threshing, drying, cutting, drying again, sorting again. It seemed like a superbly procedure-heavy method, but our cups of tea tasted good at the end of it, so no complaints here. What's really fascinating is the delicate mix between the original processes that are over a century old, and the high-tech quality gauging that happens at the end of it.
We also got to have a look at the different types of tea and qualities that are produced at the end, and learn how to identify the differences. The whole tour took about 15 minutes, so we're essentially tea connoisseurs now.
Apart from the factory, which you can enter and get a guided tour for about Rs. 300, there's also just the natural beauty of the estate around to soak in. Walks around are perfect for a bit of cosy romance, or to get the whole family doing something active in the fresh air.
We also had a look at Lipton's Bungalow, which is maintained in pristine condition. Walking through the premises was a real blast from the past, and we absolutely imagined ourselves living a feudal lord/ Downton Abbey-esque existence there.