Today, there are thousands of tea estates around the world, and many open their doors to guests. Check out what these estates in India and Sri Lanka have to offer.
Addabarie Tea Estate, Balipara, Assam
The Singpho and Khamti tribes in Assam have long been credited with inventing tea in India–using tea leaves for their medicinal properties for centuries–and today the region produces 50 percent of India’s tea. The Victorian-era Addabarie estate has four bungalows offering a range of accommodation, from the simple Golden Tips cottage to lush Wild Mahseer lodge. Practice yoga or meditate on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, hike in nearby Kaziranga National Park, or take an elephant ride around the 22-acre plantation. Arrange a fishing trip and cook Anglo-Indian cuisine–like fish kedgeree with mango chutney–with the staff, and learn the art of tea tasting at the airy First Flush tea house. From $126.
Located near the Nepalese border in West Bengal, Nuxalbari serves as a great base to visit other popular destinations like Bhutan, Sikkim, and Kalimpong, all within 125 miles of the estate. Built by British tea planters in the 19th century, the chung-style Planter’s Bungalow–raised on stilts–offers two bedrooms for guests, each with private bath. Aside from tea tastings and plantation and factory tours, the estate offers horseback riding, hiking, badminton, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Accompany the estate women to Nepal’s Dhulabari town to shop, or arrange a trip to the Jaidapara Wildlife Sanctuary to spot elephants, tigers, and the one-horned rhino. From $60.
In 1865, the coffee plantations of this Indian Ocean island were destroyed by disease, but its residents revived the country with tea plants, and it is now the third largest producer of tea in the world, employing some one million people. Tea Trails offers stays at four bungalows in the Bogawantalawa Valley region of Sri Lanka, known as the “golden valley of tea.” The bungalows have their own unique ambiance, from the colonial-style Tientsin to the more modern Norwood, though each provides a plethora of amenities, from kayaking trips, tours of the estate and factory, hikes to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak), and all meals, including wine, cocktails, and four-course dinners inspired by tea-infused dishes. Take a day trip into Nuwara Eliya to tour one of the many tea factories, or to Kandy to visit the tea museum, which details the history of tea in Sri Lanka, including Ceylon tea’s most famous entrepreneurs, James Taylor and Sir Thomas Lipton. From $184.
Read more about tea estates in India’s Himalaya region in the March issue of Traveler.
Photos: Ceylon Tea Trails