Nestled amidst the salubrious hills of the Sinharaja forest is the Lumbini Tea Centre. As one sips a refreshing tea cup, one is drawn to the breathtaking view of the verdant forest hailed as a world- famous biodiversity hotspot and classed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The inviting tea centre provides a much- needed respite from an arduous journey (that is if you consider a two to three- hour journey on a fabulous road arduous; tongue in cheek).
Driving along the Galle – Deniyaya road is a motorist’s dream as it consists of less or no traffic, with picturesque sites in view; either lush paddy fields, mysterious rubber estates or resplendent forests. So, one does not feel the hours passing by.
Lumbini tea is an inconspicuous as its owner, who prefers to remain so and let the brand speak for itself. The numerous accolades and the raving reviews on the web sites alone lay claim to the excellence of the brand and the service provided by the management and staff.
The teas which are produced in the factory range from the standard teas to specialized teas, made to the client’s requirement and sought after by tea aficionados across the world. The handmade collection, requiring hard-work and dedication have received many prestigious awards at various exhibitions globally.
Spearheaded by his father, D. Jayawardane in 1984, who founded the factory with a mere handful of staff, the celebrated operation spanning thirty years has grown in leaps and bounds. The patriarch insisted that his sons were given an all- round training in terms of tea manufacturing, brokering, exporting and much more in various renowned companies in Colombo prior to absorbing them in to the company, to ensure that they gained a thorough knowledge of the whole process of tea from the bud to the shelf and incorporate their expansive expertise and knowledge into the development of their own brand.
The famous proverb that a man is known by his works rings true and in this instance it’s the man who thinks out of the proverbial box that has received numerous awards in his area of expertise; Some of the most significant accolades are the World Quality commitment gold award in Paris, France in 2010,Gold award for best innovative tea (LUMBINI JAYACHAKRA) in specialty tea competition In Japan 2010,3 awards for selected grades in the Specialty Tea Competition held in the USA in 2002,Taiki Akimoto Japanese 5S Award for The Best Industry (2002),Special Merit Award for The Best
Tea Factory in Sri Lanka by The Speciality Tea Institute of The United States of America,Gold Award for the Orange Pekoe 1 (OP1) by The Speciality Tea Institute of The United States of America,Gold Award for the Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings Extra Special (FBOPFEXSP) by The Speciality Tea Institute of The United States of America,Silver Award for the Grade Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe (FBOP) by The Speciality Tea Institute of The United States of America,Silver award in national export awards 2007.
Serving a Community
Lumbini Tea Factory (PVT) Ltd, which has been certified with ISO 9001:2008, 22000:2005 does not merely function as a single entity devoid of social responsibilities as they maintain a plethora of remarkable corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs which are designed to provide long-term benefits to their employees, customers, partners, and individuals in communities to provide them a better living standard. In this exercise, they have focused on two main areas; primarily their employees and the society in general. The employee focus is strongly built on benefitting their employees with the objective of improving their life standards. Some of their CSR Programs include providing educational scholarships for employees’ children, providing a well-balanced breakfast for employees, issuing essential food items through a special outlet at a concessionary rate, the cultivation of vegetables and issuing them free of charge to employees’ families and providing lodging for estate workers and their families. The society too has benfitted grealt through their extensive programs which include the gifting a new ward to the Deniyaya Base Hospital, providing Scholarships to poor children who have performed well in their studies, organizing Blood Donation Campaigns and donating funds to the Deniyaya Temple.
Making Your Own Tea
It is a universally known fact that practical knowledge adds more emphasis than theory, which is the concept behind their novel venture titled, ‘Make Your Own Tea!’ What better way to garner a rudimentary knowledge of the process than by being steeped in it? Hence, the Tea Classes and Tea Tours conducted by Somasiri, Regine and Chaminda. These comprehensive courses are offered to foreigners visiting the South Coast of Sri Lanka. They can observe all the stages of picking two tender leaves and an unopened bud in the tea plantation up until the final production in factory.
Finally, they must display their expertise by themselves, which I presume is as much an adventure by itself.
In addition, they are permitted to engage in the five stages of Withering, Rolling, Fermenting, Firing and Sifting or Grading in the factory. After the successful completion of the course they are offered a certificate and the tea produced by themselves.
This is known as ‘Make your own Tea,’ which is an unforgettable experience for foreign holidaymaker’s keen on experiencing the adventures and the many eco- friendly opportunities available in the Deniyaya region, which abounds in natural splendor due to its close proximity to the Sinharaja Rain Forest.
At present Lumbini Tea Factory is led by Chaminda and his skillful team of dedicated employees who have introduced a new variety of patented tea while creating history in the industry which is known as “Jayachakra Tea” and is exclusively manufactured by them.
I was introduced to Chaminda and his beautiful wife at the Tea Traders Ball by my husband Vidura a few years back. At that brief rendezvous, I was told that this humble duo had just been awarded for being one of the most celebrated exporters in the island; with their exclusive and innovative tea, they have not merely set the standard but continue to excel in their unique brand of marketing.