The British do like tea!
Trip Start Mar 16, 2010
65Trip End Sep 11, 2010
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We arrived in Tanah Rata at approximately 5pm and were barely able to recognise that we were in the right place. James. as always, had eyes like a hawk and clearly pointed out that we were in the right destination.
We had previously reserved a place at Father's guesthouse hostel. The guesthouse used to be a hospital and then a school. It did have the same eerie feel of a 1950s hospital. It reminded us of films that we had seen where injured soldiers were taken to be treated and to recover from serious injuries
Enough said about the cold new-age capitalist empire and more about our tour of BOH Tea Plantation and the Mossy Forest Tour. We booked our tour via the hostel begrudgingly as it was too late to book from an agency in town. We opted for the Mossy Forest half day tour (RM50 pp). We went for this one as BOH Plantation is the thing to do acording to guidebooks, other travellers and Tourism of Malaysia. Jungle Trekking is worth a shot, even though we didn't do any, but we would advise doing it from Tanah Rata or hiring a scooter for the ones that are outside town.
Anyway our tour started at 9am and we got picked up from our hostel, which was convenient and easy
The Klang Teh Sungei Palas Tea Factory produces 600,000 kg of tea per annum and 820,000 cups of tea per day! The factory was reopened in 1972 mainly due to high demand for more production and obviously as it is original it could profit from tourism
After seeing the whole process from start to finish we decided that it was time for a cup of tea. Obviously we didn't pass off the chance to have a scone and a strawberry tart too. We felt we had to, this is a British establishment and even the current CEO is a Scot (Caroline Russell). Caroline Russell is a direct descendant, the grand daughter of the original owner. The tea is very nice and I'm sure if some of you are lucky enough, then you will be able to try the tea that we have bought!!!
Vusu said that he had proposed to the CEO but he was turned down- we didn't know if this was ajoke or not as he said it several times. Also as passing through the plentiful camellia sinensis fields, Vusu pointed out that every tree and every leaf is worth money. BOH Plantations owns four tea gardens - the first garden in Habu, Fairlie Tea Garden and Sungai Palas Tea Garden and BOH (the one we visited). BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd is the leading tea grower in Malaysia with a production capacity approaching 3000kgs per hectare, the Company produces 4 million kg of tea annually which translates to about 5.5 million cups per day.
Also it is important to note that after pruning a camellia sinensis grows from a heavily pruned tree to one with tea leaves ready to harvest in simply 9 months
Also the quality difference between a tea bag and loose tea is tremendous as many of you imagine already. We tried the difference and were told the difference between the two. Also the myth of breakfast tea and afternoon tea is completely irrelevant as it is called morning tea as the leaves feel the sun's rays in the morning and the afternoon tea, well...we'll let you work it out!
In addition, the workers at BOH Tea Plantations earn 20 sen (4p) per kilo picked, an average worker picks 150kg per day. Meaning that a worker only earns RM30 per day, when a waitress earns RM6.5 per hour.
Post-tea house and teashop we drove to the Mossy Forest and went to the top of Mount Brinchang- the highest peak in the Cameron Highlands at 2,300m. After climbing the tower and taking in the vast rainforest from above we went back down the hill and entered the Mossy Forest. We saw the pitcher plant- the lidded plant that draws insects in and shuts the lid- digesting them inside their long flower, it's also been recorded that they have even digested mice as mice are scavengers and so go to try and eat the insects inside the plant. Another interesting fact that we learnt is that a bamboo can grow from stump to full size in only 24 hours. Anti-collagent properties of a plant and extracting B-16 and B-18 to cure cancerous cells were among the daily lesson! We saw the Vitamin C plant that tasted like a green apple, Cinnamon, Ginger, Citronella. By the end of it we had started to compile a factfile on how native people survive in the rainforest as well as the use of plants, i.e
Our afternoon consisted of resting and going into town for lunch/dinner (Restaurant Kumar). Leanne having Fish Tikka and blackcurrant tea and James having the Chinese chicken rice with an Iced Lemon Tea (he is becoming addicted to Iced tea). We both had naans, butter and garlic, they were massive naans with the 3 classic indian dips- served the way it should be- right from the tandoori oven. This large meal came to a whopping 4 pounds and we were soon on our way. We ventured back to the hostel after checking the internet, to find out that Watford had won 3-2 (their first game of the season, against Norwich). Spag Bol and a cheese toastie were bought from Mr.Grumpy for evening meal. We then booked our bus as we decided that Penang/Georgetown was screaming for us to visit, choosing the 8am bus!
Onward to Georgetown/Penang, the first British settlement in Malaysia.