Munnar and the Tea Museum

We woke to a perfect blue sky with the sun shining on the cardamom plantation outside our bedroom window. Great we thought, we will have a clear view of the hills from the viewpoint this morning.  We had breakfast promptly at 8.30am and headed up to the viewpoint to find that the clouds had already descended and obscured the view by 9.15am.  Its was an improvement on yesterday with the hint of a view.  Nevertheless very disappointing.

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We arranged for a tuk-tuk to pick us up at 10am and take us into Munnar, a 30 minute ride down through the mountains. Munnar is typical Indian town, noisy, full of scooters, jeeps and tuk-tuks and people.

We wandered around the town, into the vegetable market and then tried to find information on the buses for Thursday to get us back to Fort Cochin.  The bus is a much cheaper option than getting a taxi so we have decided to opt for that for this journey.  However, it seems to difficult to find out the necessary information…..

We had a brief lunch stop and then took a tuk-tuk up to the Tea Museum, just 2km outside of Munnar. Our entrance fee was 125IR (£1.53) each. The museum told the story of the development of the tea plantations in this part of India.  Tea comes from the plant Camellia sinensis, an evergreen bush which grows at altitudes of 3,000-7,000ft on slopes at 30-45 degrees. In the beginning, in the 19th century, forested areas had to be cleared in order to plant the plantations but apparently nothing else can grow on the high altitude slopes favoured by tea so tea does not reduce other opportunities for commercial crops. The evergreen tea plantations are impressive to look at and certainly provide a constant green covering to all the hills as far as the eye can see.

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Mr L and I now know the difference between black tea, green tea and white tea. We saw tea from its initial delivery as green leaves being processed into tea leaves and tea dust.  The factory machinery looked as ancient as the museum building!

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At the end of the tour there was a shop where it was possible to buy tea but everything was behind a counter so impossible to look at with no information and no prices on display.  It was a shame as there is huge potential to maximise profits from the shop if only it was organised better. Information books on tea production, the history of the plantations etc would also be good to see but there was nothing available at all.  It was very similar to the spice plantation in Thekkady which also had no information to give out or available to purchase.  So many missed opportunities.

We walked back into town, downhill all the way, and went into one of the many spice and tea shops in Munnar and bought some local tea from there. You could see what you were buying and it was a fraction of the cost the museum shop was charging.

As usual dark clouds rolled in early afternoon and rain looked imminent but it never arrived whilst we were out.  My donated rain mac was not required today! We did have a small amount of rain after we got back to Green Spaces late afternoon but that didn’t affect us as we are very sheltered on our outside area, and nothing like the rain downpours of the past few days. We must be getting used to the lower temperatures, 21-22c, as neither I or Mr L felt quite so cold this evening.