Tea tourism is hot with guided tours, resorts and hotels opening on tea estates, and a growing number of festivals and tea shows. But what about museums? London’s Bramah Museum of Tea & Coffee closed years ago. Where can ardent tea drinkers go to explore the history and culture of this magnificent drink?
Ceylon Tea Museum – Hantane, Kandy, Sri Lanka
This museum earned one Lonely Planet’s Top Pick rankings, noting it as “an essential stop on any Sri Lankan tea tour.” This four story museum was an old tea factory that has been refurbished. It now contains an exhibit of machinery, a library and auditorium, a shop and a restaurant. The facility is landscaped with a variety of tea plants.
China Tea Museum – Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
This museum opened in 1991 as a national museum with the goal of promoting and preserving tea culture. The Hall of Tea History covers thousands of years of tea in China. The Tea Kaleidoscope Hall highlights the different types of tea. There is also a Hall of Tea Properties, a Tea Sets Hall, a Tea Friendships Hall and a Tea Customs Hall. The museum has established a number of tea ceremonies which are performed at the site including the West Lake Tea Ceremony, the Grind Tea Ceremony, the Literati’s Tea Ceremony, the Zen Tea Ceremony and the Oolong Tea Ceremony.
Meitan Tea Musuem – Meitan, China
For something a little different, check out the teapot-shaped museum in Meitan, the “hometwon of Chinese green tea.” This site opened in 2010.
Dodabetta Tea Factory and Museum – Coonoor, India
Opened in 2005, this one acre factory is sited in Ooty in the Nilgiris. The factory owners believed that the story of Indian tea could best be told by the creation of an on-site museum. Museum exhibits will explore the history of tea around the world and in India specifically, as well as the growth of tea in Nilgiri. Visitors will experience the museum as well as the manufacturing of tea.
Kanan Devan Hills Tea Museum – Munnar, India
Located on the Nullatanni Tea Estate, thousands travel annually to the Idukki’s high ranges to learn about tea manufacturing in the 1900s. Exhibits include a 1905 roller and rotovane (used to create CTC) and a Pelton drive wheel. One room features old-time bungalow furniture, cash safe, typewriters, magneto phone and wooden bathtub. Tea is processed onsite for tourists and sold in the gift shop.
News reports say that the state government will work with Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Ltd (TANTEA) to open a new tea museum this summer in Coonoor. This free site will provide information about tea as well as a model of Tiger Hill Factory and tea making demonstrations.