By Ryan Johnson
The story starts from a single seed that changed Sri Lankan history and put us on the map to be globally recognised. The start of our journey to the beautiful hills of Haputale with the media team was an exclusive event organised by Ogilvy Public Relations. We were set to take off at sharp 10 am, the warm welcome they gave us was exactly what we needed in the morning, smoothing with a lot of coffee. After a small introduction by the famous Kumar De Silva, we were escorted to our tour bus that was fit for rock stars with photographers and videographers tailing our each move.
The long journey did not feel that exhausting, with quizzes to keep us entertained for a while, and the beautiful scenery we kept passing by was truly amazing. Made us marvel how beautiful our country really is only to be matched by the rich history behind.
After a filling lunch we had another long ride to the amazing Olympus Plaza Hotel that stood out on the hilltops, the first thing we did was rush to capture the beauty that was being covered by the mist. Out of all of that, the most beautiful thing was seeing a rainbow bloom. It surly was a beautiful sight to take.
After we settled into our rooms and a quick shower, we had a small conference with the Lipton management team Siddharth Banerjee – Country Marketing Director, Avindra De Silva – Head of Tea Division, Shanika Jayawardana – Category Head (Beverages), Ishan Rajasuriya – Procurement Manager and Rehani Barsenbach – Brand Manager. So on the night started with an amazing dinner alongside a small band playing beautiful Lankan tunes to keep the spirits high and entertained throughout the night. Sadly, the night had to end early for most of the media people for we were told that we had to wake up early morning at 5.30am.
Early morning, our bags were packed and after an amazing breakfast fit for kings, we headed down to see the beautiful sunrise – a sight that brought smiles and captured the true emotions we don’t see in the city area.
The media group then headed to the famous hill top where Sir Lipton would go for a cup of tea – it is indeed a beautiful place to relax and take in the view . It is said that he would take his tea and look out at the 7 districts that are scattered among Chandrika Lake, Uda Walwe Lake, Wedi Hiti Kanda Mountains and even the Hambantota Harbour. Sir Thomas Lipton was a visionary with his modern advertising methods, revolutionary tea manufacturing process and his affordable, but rich in quality tea being available to the world. Keeping in mind ‘from the tea garden to the tea pot’, each step was carefully done, and the richness and quality of his methods live on until today.
The media group was lucky enough to learn more about tea. The process looks easy but honestly it’s rather hard. The weather plays a big role in the tea industry. We had the rare opportunity to pluck tea leaves with the bag tied on to our heads, the experience was once in a life time. Each tea picker depending on the season has to collect 18 to 20kg. The hard work and patience they devote each day is truly amazing.
After the tutorial on tea picking we headed to the tea factory where we learnt how the tea leaves are dried and grinded and we had a chance to try tea tasting. Each step of how everything happens were explained to us. It is quite a big process that goes in to making these tea packs we drink. We had the chance to taste a silver tip as well – one of the most pure tea leaves and expensive kinds as well with 2kg going for around Rs. 50,000.
It was a privilege to learn about the tea industry and Lipton’s vision and goals. Lipton is re-launching its brand to show case what true quality Ceylon tea continues to be by giving emphasis to the roots of how everything started. The brand, colour and the texture of the tea proves the great lengths they go to make Lipton Ceylonta the best tea in the world. The knowledge and the dedication of the Lipton staff is an ode to the founder of Lipton, Sir Thomas Lipton, conforming that to this day, the company’s main concern is you, the customer.