Ceylon Tea Museum, a long shut down tea factory, is one of the most interesting attractions of Kandy. Its a tea factory, a museum, a library, and a restaurant, all housed in one old but well maintained building. Its open Tuesday to Sunday except on Poya days from 8.30am to 3.45pm (Sunday upto 3.00pm). There is an entry fee of 800 LKR for foreigners and LKR 400 for children which I guess will apply up to the age of 12 years. Entry is free for Sri Lankan citizens. The museum is located in Hantana area of Kandy which is a hilly stretch 3 KM away from the city’s border but a motorable road goes all the way from Kandy upto the tea factory and beyond. Locals know the place more as a tea factory than as “Ceylon Tea Museum”. So if buying a bus ticket or getting a tuk tuk, say that you want to go to the tea factory in Hantana (pronounced Hantaan). The bus drops in from of the factory but one needs to climb a little from there up the hill to get into the compound. Ample parking space is available in the compound for those arriving by car.
Inside the building, one needs to buy the entry ticket after which the option to take a free conducted tour or do it yourself tour is presented to the visitor. The free tour is a better option. There are fixed timings for the conducted tours – 8.30, 9.30, 10.30, 11.30am and 1.00, 2.00, and 3.00pm. In view of the small number of tourists coming to the museum, even during the Perahera days, the tour timings are flexible. If there is staff available, they give a tour guide to every visitor.
The tour starts at the ground floor, which is the factory floor. There is a power generator that was used to run the factory. Just one power geneator did it all through a network of pullies and belts connecting the rest of the moving equipment in the factory. There are other machines and and stuff, like rollers, dryers, fermentation tables, sorting machines, etc. etc. Photo / videography is allowed. The guide explains the process and the machines on display.
The second floor houses the library and museum where they have quite a few exhibits from the long history of the tea factory.
There are shops on the third floor where one can buy varities of ceylon teas and other local stuff. Ceylon teas come from seven different regions – Uva, Kandy, Ruhuna, Sabaragamuwa, Nuwara Eliya, Uda Pussellawa, and Dimbula. The last one is the most famous. The shops have it all – Green, Black, or White tea processed according to several recipes like the ever present BOP (Broken Orange Pecoe) or the high-end Sencha. After buying tea packets here, one is welcome to head to the top floor restaurant where a free cup of tea awaits, served by a smiling hostess.
The free tea should not be missed. I had a BOP with milk and it tasted excellent. Those people sure know how to brew tea. The tour, the shopping for tea and the final cup of tea in the restaurant were all a great experience for me. No reason why it will not be the same for you. Even if you have been to a tea museum before, this one surely deserves a visit.