In 1870, Augustus Waddington arrived in Ceylon (aka Sri Lanka) and started carving tea plantations out of the wilderness. In 1999, I followed my great-grandfather to the "Isle of Delight" with my fist visit to the Lumbini Tea Estate. While touring the factory floor, Chaminda Jayawardana, now the general manager, then the heir apparent (his father founded Lumbini in 1984) showed me a pet project, Ceylon Silver Needles. I loved it.
Amidst the rumbling tea machinery and bustling tea workers we started negotiating. I ended up buying extra luggage to bring back 50 kg of this on my flight home.
This exemplifies Lumbini: pushing the boundaries in the world of tea and incredible (and justified) pride in their products and their people. We are very proud to call the folks at Lumbini our friends.
-Bill Waddington, owner
The Lumbini Estate
The Lumbini tea factory is located in the southern part of the Ruhuna district in Sri Lanka. The factory was started in 1984 by Mr. Dayapala Jayawardana. By 1996, the business had undergone considerable growth and was able to export its own tea directly. The factory is equipped with modern machinery and beautiful facilities to process and evaluate tea. They have received many awards and recognition in Sri Lanka for the excellent quality of their product.
A Tea Planter's Diary
"I will mention here a few things a young tea planter should learn as soon as possible. First and foremost he must learn to speak to the coolies in their own language - the Tamil. He must learn how to make nurseries from seed or cutting, how to prune and care for the crops, drain and make roads in the new plantation. He must also learn to design and superintend the building, whether in wattle and dab for the coolies' 'huts' or in brick and stone for his own building. He must learn something of sickness and the simple medicines to give. He should, by all means, know enough to sew a button, in an extremity... I wish here to remark on my affection for the kindness, and 'bon comradie' (sic) of all the tea planters I met in Ceylon. We used to meet at each other's bungalows and have a 'sing a song.' Each one had to sing a song and tell a story, or drink a glass of salt and water. I shall never forget those days."
From The Life and Travels of Augustus Waddington an unpublished memoir, 1870 Augustus Waddington, Welsh tea man in Ceylon