December 2nd, 1935
Left Bandarawella Hotel for Spring Valley Estate. The same kind of country, climbing round the mountainside side. Mr Sutherland, the Manager, was there to meet us and although they were not manufacturing that day he showed us round the factory. The largest we have seen so far, with old and modern plant and thirteen rolling machines of various types. The factory stands at an elevation of 3100 feet and they produce tea from elevations of from 2000 to 6000 feet. To show us the extent of the estate Mr Sutherland took us in his 8 h.p Morris up the estate road (our own car was too big). The climb was an average of 1 in 9 and we rose 1500 feet. This was as far as he dared take four passengers in his car. There was still another 1000 feet above us from which they obtain their finest tea. The tea goes down to the factory from the hills in sacks on a wire rope and they have thirteen of these chutes on the estate. The most marvellous thing to us is how the coolies manage to pick the tea at such heights and on such steep slopes. They are barefooted certainly but even so it is some feat. Mac got some very interesting snaps on this trip and I hope they come out all right. A wonderful trip but again breathed a sigh of relief when we got back to the hotel. Still nursing my hands and face. All the planters we have seen are studying how to produce tea that will bring higher prices on the market owing to the restrictions now in force. Mr. Sutherland was concerned owing to the prices for his tea dropping from 2/2 and a half to ½ per lb in the past 6 weeks. This was caused by the drought in the Uva district. As the freshly plucked tea arrives at the factory each sack is weighed and examined, a bud and two leaves from a new shoot is careful plucking. The withering rooms are very large and are filled with Tats. Tats are racks built from the floor to the ceiling and lengths of strong canvas, wood or wire mesh, are stretched from four to six inches apart. The tea when received from the gardens is spread lightly and evenly on these tats and allowed to remain there from 14 – 24 hours according to climate conditions. Air is force through the rooms by huge fans built in the centre of the factory and so constructed that air can be diverted to where required – when they can bend the tea stalk without snapping it, the leaves are taken to the rolling machines which are large metal drums into which the withered leaf is put. This drum revolves on a brass or wooden bed which has grooves or battens of wood so formed to create the curl on the withered leaf. This rolling bursts the cells in the leaf and gets the desired twist on it. When rolled sufficiently it is dropped into a drawer beneath and then taken to a sifting machine. Any tea that fails to pass through the mesh is out back in the rolling machine again for a further roll. The sifted green tea is then out on the fermenting tables and after it takes on a copper shade is then taken to the dryer, a machine with long bands about eight bands deep. The wet leaf is out in at one end and after passing slowly on these bands to and fro in intense heat, it comes out at the other end perfectly dry. It is then put on the winnowing machine which grades it –sifting it though meshes of various sizes – B.O.P, B.P, P. Fannings of various sizes down to dust. Some planters are fixing apparatus for determining the moisture content before the tea is despatched from the factory.
Up to now we have been favoured with fine weather and have seen up-country at its best. We leave early tomorrow for Nuwara Eliya to lunch with the Manager of Kandapolla factory. Mac then goes Naseby Estate to see field work, with Mr Coleman, the Manager.