© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Occupations Food Production Market Small Business Building Other Occupations

“Ceylon Tea” has long been renowned worldwide and is an important export employing many people throughout the island.

Up in the Hill Country are large tea plantations owned by companies such as Liptons. The tea is grown tended and picked by the largely Tamil employees. When it is picked, it is collected to the local tea factory where it is dried and processed.

Tea pluckers at work in the Hill Country

Replanting tea bushes

Towards sunset the pluckers return to collecting points and their sacks of tea are weighed - pay is by weight of tea plucked.

A roadside collecting point at sunset. The pluckers are then taken by the truck to their village.

Typical Tea Factory - these are a common site in the Hill Country

Buying tea from Hill Country road side Tea Centres

Typical views of tea estates in the Hill country

Many Tea Estates have retained their old names indicating the origins of the original tea planters!

Preparations for a Hindu Festival in a Hill Country small town.

 Residents were enthusiastically decorating their houses, shops, Temple and streets for the festival. Many work in the local tea plantations and factories.

Low Country Tea Plantations

These are typically smaller estates. They are often locally owned and the owner and his family group tend the tea bushes themselves employing local daily paid labourers to help with the plucking etc. Some tea gardens are only about an acre and the tea garden may be amongst the spice plants and trees. This is in the Katuwana area in Northern Hambantota District near the cinnamon factory. (See section on Cinnamon).

At the end of the day the sacks of plucked tea are left at pick-up points on the roadside and a local Co-operative transports them to the local Tea Factory


Apart from working in the Tea Estates and Gardens and at the Tea Factories , there are several other occupations related to ns in the Tea Industry. Tea Tasters, administration and all aspects of marketing and exporting are just some of the examples. Many of these are located in Colombo.