June Jun 2024

The Worlds’ Largest Tea Bush

Back in the early ’60s, there was something truly magical about a certain bush on an estate located in the rolling hills of Haputale in the Uva region of Sri Lanka (Formally Ceylon) called Pitaratmali Estate. This garden was owned by 2 plantation companies in Ceylon named Ceylon Tea plantation Company Ltd. and The Ceylon Proprietary Tea Estates Company Ltd.

It stood there, proud and majestic, amid a field of bushes; each seemingly competing for space, but this one was different. It was around 100 feet in diameter, a giant in its own right. When the time came for its annual pruning ritual in 1962 or ’63, it underwent a remarkable transformation, with 294 pruning cuts carefully executed.

This bush was a real showstopper, and the workers on the estate affectionately referred to it as “high jat” or “vella thaylay” in Tamil, which means “one can’t beat” – a when translated into English which is a testament to its towering stature.

It had a single, massive trunk from which sprawling branches reached out, starting from about a foot above the ground. For about half their length, these branches stood at roughly a foot in height and, if you looked at them from the side, they had a graceful elliptical shape. Can you imagine that? A bush with elliptical branches! This was because Tea plants do not normally grow to be this size and the sheer weight of the branch would make it bend.

l Top