Dunkeld Tea Estate
Many families live on and around our Dunkeld plantation, and because you are buying from a tea company with Sri Lankan owners, all proceeds go back into the local economy, so your purchase helps take care of its many families and villagers.
The heart of the community
Tea is one of Sri Lanka’s main exports and source of employment for the island. Many families live on and around plantations. We see the tea on our plantation as an important resource. When you buy from a Sri Lankan-owned tea company like ours, you are helping to look after the many families and villagers, because all proceeds go back into the local economy.. As an employer, it enables us to take good care of our colleagues. Each tea plantation is essentially a mini-village. Our plantations are not just places to work, they are the heart of the community through all the facilities we provide. Based on the vision of our founder Merrill J. Fernando and with the proceeds from your cup of tea, we ensure, through a variety of projects of our MJF foundation, that people on the plantations have better access to resources like housing, care and education for children. In the form of a plantation programme, we provide plantation workers and the community around them with all kinds of basic needs to which every human being is entitled.
Every person has the right to a good foundation
Since 2009, the Sivakumaran family has been living on Dunkeld plantation in one of the houses built thanks to Dilmah’s MJF foundation’s housing project. Mr Sivakumaran was first a factory worker and then a driver on Dilmah’s Dunkeld Tea Estate.
Moving from a room to this house has undoubtedly profoundly affected my life and that of my family, he says. Our house is spacious, has basic amenities and is located in a place that is convenient for us. It gives me a sense of relief when I remember that I have been able to offer them a comfortable life thanks to the work I have chosen.
Many plantations are more remote. More is needed to take good care of our people. A short distance from the houses, there is a clinic with a doctor available to the workers and their families. There is a crèche for the children, vegetable gardens for the residents and a school. The community also takes care of the pensioners. This allows families to stay together.
Children are the future
Whereas in Europe it is quite normal to have access to a crèche or pre-school, in Sri Lanka, costs are a challenge for many parents. Many families live on a limited and unstable income and cannot afford the extra cost of childcare, especially for multiple children. Much of the family income goes towards food, rent and other necessities. This leaves little to pay for childcare.
To address this challenge, the MJF foundation, thanks to Dilmah tea drinkers around the world, has so far restored 61 crèches and child development centres and built 14 new ones. These centres are fully funded by the MJF Charitable Foundation. They provide daily care and welfare to more than 2,000 children in our tea gardens, and are equipped with free facilities and a balanced midday meal to enable the healthy development of these young minds.
An educational site for leopard conservation
At Dunkeld tea plantation, both the plantation, itself, and all its inhabitants are taken care of. With your tea purchase, you are contributing to the various initiatives that have been started in the field of animal (species) conservation, environmental education, biodiversity protection, and more . For example, at the Dunkeld plantation, you will find the “Leopard Conservation Station” first established on 11 August 2016, thanks to the collaboration between Dilmah Conservation and the Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT)
The Sri Lankan leopard is the only major land predator in Sri Lanka, but is designated as a vulnerable species. The role of the Sri Lankan leopard as both the most important and only significant predator in the Sri Lankan ecosystem, needs to be established urgently. The leopard could well be of central importance, s whose existence is essential to the current ecological balance. Through long-term study of the leopard, and understanding of its land use, WWCT aims to conserve the Sri Lankan leopard in its natural habitat, thus influencing the conservation of this island’s biodiversity and landscape.
The Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT), founded by zoologist Dr Andrew Kittle and ecologist Anjali Watson, are involved in this initiative. The work of this couple of wildlife researchers extends throughout Sri Lanka with such projects as identifying viable leopard populations across the island, verifying the importance and impact of the leopard on its various habitats, and gathering as much information as possible for an overall plan for conservation of this species within Sri Lanka.
This video, made by CNN, gives an insight into Anjali Watson’s enthusiasm and the importance of this project & research. At the same time, you get a better view of the breathtaking Dunkeld plantation and our colleagues.
Experience the Dunkeld tea plantation & factory for yourself
Tea factories are like living museums - full of interesting smells, sounds and energy. Some methods and machines are more than a century old— one reason why Ceylon tea, itself, is part of the world’s living heritage. At the Dunkeld plantation, you will find a visitor centre where you can be taken through the history of Ceylon tea. There are even daily tours of the plantation.
Together with a local guide, you explore the Dunked Tea Factory: The ultimate tea experience in Sri Lanka. Our tea planter from Dunkeld is very passionate, and lovingly explains all aspects of tea, from a look back to the early days of “planting” and the lifestyle of the early colonial settlers, to the production process and how flavours are created. An unforgettable experience according to Janet’s review on tripadvisor.
Beyond sustainable tourism
The enthusiasm of many visitors to our tea plantations gave birth to the idea of “Resplendent Ceylon”, which allowed the sustainable mindset to expand into the tourism and hospitality industry as well. Our founder, Merrill J. Fernando, dedicated his life to tea when he saw the concentration of ownership in the tea industry in the hands of a few big companies in the 1950s. His desire was to make his tea ethical, and to benefit the local economy and its people.
Whereas Dilmah tea is about beyond fair trade, beyond sustainable is the starting point at our branch in tourism & hospitality. Allowing nature to flourish as it is is paramount. Using resources is allowed in order to enjoy our lifestyle and luxury, but should not have a negative or detrimental impact on Sri Lankan ecosystems and the communities that are part of them .The goal is to precisely create a net positive change, or leave things better than we found them.
Historic overnight stay on our plantation
An overnight stay at a plantation will complete your visit to Sri Lanka. The development of our resort all started with a reverence and the ‘sense of place’ central to it, such as its historical, social and cultural aspects. By understanding this, the people of that place are truly woven into its fabric, organically creating community inclusion and participation through partnerships that lead to their well-being and economic uplift.
Around Dunkeld plantation, you will find the Summerville, Castlereagh and Dunkeld bungalows overlooking Lake Castlereagh. Bungalow Norwood is at the other end of the valley, about 15 minutes’ drive away, and bungalow Tientsin is in the next valley, about a 30 minutes’ drive . Marked walking and cycling paths connect the bungalows and encourage individual exploration, or one can join a guided walk between them, enjoying beautiful panoramas along the way. Want to get a glimpse? This video will take you into the world of the Dunkeld estate. We warmly welcome you to visit our island paradise!
About the Dunkeld tea plantation
Located 20 km from Hatton on the banks of the Castlereagh reservoir, the Dunkeld estate and tea plantation is perhaps the most picturesque tea plantation in all Sri Lanka. The estate is owned by MJF Tea Gardens, a Dilmah Tea. At an altitude of 1,200 to 1,500 metres, the estate comprises 550 hectares of high-growing Ceylon tea. Thanks to our colleagues, the plantation produces about 350,000 kg of hand-picked tea annually. The view from the highest point of Dunkeld Estate is stunning.
Dunkeld works closely with the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation in our efforts to improve worker welfare and to protect biodiversity.
Hand-picked for you with love
Your cup of tea is made from freshly hand-picked tea leaves. Hand-picked tea has long since ceased to be the norm throughout the tea industry. Machine picking is used for higher profit margins. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries where tea is still mainly hand-picked. This makes Ceylon tea truly different.
A tea picker’s hand moves 17,500 times a day to pick 19 kg of tea. From these 19 kg of fresh tea leaves, just over 5 kg of tea is made at the factory. Yet good tea is made in the field and not in the factory. The essential requirement in making a good tea is to supply the factory with good leaves. A good leaf consists of two leaves and a bud.
Through the love and hard work of our tea pickers, you will enjoy the very best tea Sri Lanka can produce. The taste and aroma of hand-picked tea is much softer and smoother than machine-picked tea, and the leaves are of higher quality.