Kingdoms, plantations and tea
Over a hundred and fifty people, including heaps of kids, turned out
to meet Herman Gunaratne and exchange news, buy and sign books at Odel
bookshop on May 12. ‘The Plantation Raj’ which means kingdom and the
plantations are, verily, a kingdom, says the King of white tea. “The
manager was king and his word was the final one in all matters,” says
Herman in his book and to those who came to see him during the action
“I am most touched by my youngest fans, two twins aged 2, who just
love my books. One wouldn't leave the shop without a signed copy.”
At the book
“The Plantation Industry in our country is taken so much for
granted,” says the writer. He goes on: “The people, the politicians and
all those who matter seem to think that like the rivers, the streams,
the trees of this land, the air we breathe, and the plantations will
continue forever to be the main income earner for Sri Lanka. This
colonial legacy that was bequeathed to us, has served the country well
for the last 145 years.”
Herman strongly believes that Sri Lanka produces the best tea in the
world; it is certainly one of the largest exporters.
‘We have the best array of teas’ are oft-repeated statements that are
made all over the world. But what of the current situation of the
plantations? Sri Lanka has lost the pre-eminent position that it enjoyed
as the largest exporter of tea to the new boy in the classroom – Kenya.
Tea factories are being shut down and around fifty per cent are no more
vanishing back into the jungle as he saw with one of the plantations he
once worked on.
The crops are declining dramatically. Valuable tea lands are being
The industry has gone through many upheavals and convulsions and
today is in peril as observed on a four day shooting trip for the book
with the publisher and designer of the book.
signing a book
“The nationalization and the subsequent changes have been a failure
and only succeeded in placing in jeopardy the continued prosperity of
our country,” explains Herman.
The book is a textbook to tea combined with Herman’s personal
experiences, amusing observations as one of Sri Lanka's most successful
planters, which are intended to tell the story of the hard work and the
dedication to duty that made this magnificent industry what it was.
It is also his view that the lessons learned must be imparted to the
aspiring planting students of future generations and those that fall in
love with the country on a holiday and rush out and buy a plantation as
you do a two week trip.
Dilmah Tea brand leader Merrill Fernando says: “‘The Plantation Raj’
is an incredible read from the man who has created the world’s best
white tea and has unselfishly shared his knowledge of Sri Lanka’s key
industry. He writes fearlessly and without favour or prejudice, which
reflects his true nature and style, that makes Herman such an amazing
character.” Those visiting Tea Trails will be able to read a copy in
situ at one of the four fantastic Tea Trail Plantation properties.
The other option is to get down to buy a copy of ‘The Betrayal: The
Plantation Raj’ by Herman Guneratne as soon as possible before stocks