Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea with a roaring tea industry that dominates the island’s central highlands. Introduced to the country by British tea planter James Taylor in 1867, tea irreversibly changed the topography, and even the demography of the country. In the wake of Sri Lanka’s coffee blight, British planters were quick to discover that tea was a more lucrative industry. As the number of tea estates rose, there was an increased need for human labor. The production of tea involves a tedious procedure of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying – a process that requires heavy machines and plenty of manpower. Workers were shipped over from Tamil Nadu in India to maintain the plantations, and these people, an often overlooked ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, are still the main employees in the tea industry today. A visit to a tea factory has become a staple of every Sri Lanka travel itinerary, and for good reason! If you look past the crowds of tourists and the sometimes amusingly gimmicky tea tours on offer, you’ll find a fascinating subject matter – the epic story of the tea industry, a central theme to the story of not only Sri Lanka, but also the post-industrialized world.