Watching a master at their trade is fascinating regardless of what trade it is. These happen to be master tea leave pickers. The top 1-2 inches of the Tea Tree are plucked. Surprising fact is that a tea tree is a tree and can grow to be over 15 meters/ 50 ft. But they are cropped down so that it is easy to weave in an out of the pathways to pluck the top leaves every 7-14 days.
The women from the local tribes have been picking leaves here for years, and their mothers and grandmothers have done the same. I was fortunate enough to get a few smiles from these ladies and try it out myself. The trick is getting the right part of the plant. The top leaves are the target and they are picked every two weeks. I have been taking notes about tea and will visit the plantation museum this week to fill you in with more details. Today I was just excited to get out into the open air and see these masters in action.
I have been an avid tea drinker for many years so it made sense to add Munnar as a destination point for my in my wandering through India. Munnar is situated in the Idukki district of the Indian state of Kerala. Since I had already spent a few weeks touring down the coast of Kerala it seemed like a good idea.
The journey to get to Munnar was by a couple different buses first rising up into the hills away from the ocean, then narrow winding roads that wrapped around steep mountains and drop offs. My ears popped a few times on the way up.
The worst part was the drive, and the bus driver looked to be falling asleep so I spoke to him and offered him one of my oranges. All I had to offer at the time, I figured some of the natural sugar might help him, and the focus on eating the orange itself will make him more aware. But overall It was a pretty, yet interesting four hour bus journey through deep forests and lush green mountains.
Arriving in the late evening the goal was to find a guest house asap drop the bag and grab a meal to plan the next days ahead of seeing the Tea fields scattered across the mountain tops.