Grower: Amba Estate
Tea Maker: Neethanjana Senadheera Tharuka
Location: Ambadandegama - Uva District, Sri Lanka
Elevation: 1,000m (3,280ft)
Cultivation: Natural (Organic, but no certification)
Signature Teas: OP1 With Tea Flowers
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Amba Estate is a garden in the highland Uva District of Sri Lanka. At this altitude, the tea is classified as a mid-grown tea. The estate is nestled in a little valley below Lipton's Seat (site of Sir Thomas Lipton's first tea estate), and is located above the famous Ravan Ella Waterfalls. The abundant rainfall helps contribute to the lush tea fields.
The Amba Estate team is dedicated to creating quality teas through ethical, sustainable practices. Unlike in most other tea estates, the workers are not just parts of a factory-line process, but are empowered in their craft. Each worker learns the different stages of the teamaking process, and learns how to keep detailed records about the agriculture, upkeep, and crafting of the teas. In return, the workers gain 10% of the estate's revenues in addition to their wages, and another portion of the estate's revenues is reserved for worker programs.
Amba Estate also emphasizes environmental sensitivity. To maintain the fields, they use strict, all-natural growing methods, which often requires enormous extra effort due to the abundance of pests, but allows for the preservation of the environment. No chemicals, artificial fertilizers, or pesticides are used. To maintain and enhance soil fertility, Amba uses their own compost and organic sprays, using green plant material from the estate's ground and manure from their own herd of ‘rescue cows’.
They weed the fields manually, and leave the trimmed leaf material as mulch between the bushes to improve water and nutrient retention. They also plant gliricidia and other nitrogen-fixing plants between the tea, making for very healthy plants. In addition to tea, the estate also farms other crops like black pepper, lemongrass, cinnamon, and clove, which contributes to the biodiversity of the area and also provides an alternate source of income, instead of relying entirely on the tea.
Because of Amba Estate's approach, the workers enjoy long-term, rewarding employment, and their Ceylon teas are of unprecedented quality and creativity.
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