2011 has been a truly spectacular year. After visiting the tea fields in Thailand in March, I recently had the rare privilege of traveling to Munnar, a hill station located in the Indian state of Kerala. On the map, it’s near the south-western tip of India. Its high elevations, cool temperatures and the vast, rolling fields of tea make it a popular tourist destination for locals.
The trip to Munnar from Cochin was not particularly easy. It’s a narrow, twisty road full of people, vans and in some cases we encountered even elephants, monkeys and cows. Our driver was excellent, yet for all of his efforts, it’s nerve-wracking for those of us accustomed to Western travel. Our journey was an 8 hour bus ride full of brake screeching, speeding, blind corners, and the incessant blaring of horns.
Once you reach a certain level of elevation, it’s a magical moment. The tea fields begin to open out in front of you. Occasionally in the distance, we could make out the white dots of tea pickers hard at work climbing the steep slopes. While the town itself is fairly non-descript (and therefore unworthy of photos), the tea fields make all the difference. Come out here to relax, regenerate and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The hip-deep tea bushes are a bright, vibrant green and coat every available hilltop. Unlike the tea fields I photographed earlier in Thailand, the bushes here seem more wild, less manicured. From a distance, it looks like a deep padding of forest moss growing on the mountains.
When I stopped by to visit the Kanan Devan Hills Plantation outlet, it was a wall-to-wall expanse of tea.
They sold many varieties at the shop, ranging from green tea, various grades of leaf, and many varieties of tea dust. In the fine British tradition, Indians like their dark, brisk and hot with a generous amount of milk and sugar.
I purchased a few different varieties of tea and look forward to reviewing them with you soon!