What could be better than sipping a hot cup of tea amidst the clouds on a hill that boasts of the highest tea plantations in the world? Yes, this is all about Kolukkumalai. Kolukkumalai is a kind of a hamlet that lies in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu. The tea of this plantation has refreshingly unique taste most probably because of high altitude on which the tea is grown.
The height of Kolukkumalai is 2,170 meter above sea level. This place can be accessed from Munnar from where it is at a distance of about 32 km. You may find not so very good roads to reach this tea plantation from Munnar but this one and a half hour journey will be worth the time and efforts as you can witness breath taking scenery on the way to Kulukkumalai.
This village which is situated on the hill top can only be visited by a Jeep as the road is too rough for any other vehicle to tred. Though this hemlet lies in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, you have to approach from the side of Kerala going through Suryanelli of Idukki district. Many a time the people may get confused about its actual location and may think that this tea plantation lies in Kerala.
The tea making factory here is as if time has frozen here. Not a single piece of modern machines and equipment can be seen in this factory which is originally believed to be established by a Scottish fellow. The machines that belong to the third to fifth decade of the 20th century still have the stamps of those times.
Here the handpicked leaves undergo the actual and original process of rolling, cooling, fermenting, drying and packaging for distribution. The organically packed tea is full of aroma and taste as it uses the methods that involved least heat production and are mainly natural.
It is not that people there do not want the new age machinery to increase their production and make their lives easier but it is almost impossible to do that due to the rough terrain of the area. When the present machinery was brought up the mountain it had to be pushed by several men for several days before it could be installed at the factory. Today it is not an option and is also very dangerous to attempt. The roads are not made in a way that they can allow the trucks to ply so the old fashioned machinery remains the only option for tea making in this factory.
For the factory tour you need to buy a ticket after which you can explore the top floor of the factory all by yourself. Different rooms that are dedicated to different steps of processing are shown to you by a factory worker. The factory is not very big so you will take at the max half an hour to complete the factory tour. After this you can walk around in the tea garden and inhale the aroma of the plantation. You could even try the different teas and have the time of your life in this serene place.
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