Tag Archives: Handunugoda Tea Estate in Ahangama

Virgin White Tea Estate Tour – Handunugoda; Sri Lanka

Ah, Tea! It is the world’s most acceptable beverage and second most popular drink. Tea works in every situation – be it cold, sitting down to work, to cheer someone up or as a medicinal remedy. Tea too has strong social and cultural connotations and is a sign of hospitality, worldwide. China is the largest producer as well as consumer of Tea and Sri Lanka ranks fourth in the production as well as export and its consumption is far less. We all know about the different varieties of tea – black tea, green tea, herbal tea but have you heard about Virgin White Tea. It came as something new to us and now exploring the Virgin White tea estate and tasting virgin white tea was high on our list.

Virgin White Tea Estate, Handunugoda, Sri lanka
Source: Lanka Houses

One fine day, after breakfast at Apa Villa Illuketia in Sri Lanka, we took our bike and rode to the south coast of Sri Lanka to explore more dormant villages and the virgin white tea estate, Handunugoda at Ahangama.

The Virgin White Tea Estate, Sri Lanka

The Virgin White Tea estate, Handunugoda is a family owned plantation of planter Malinga Herman in Tittagalla, Ahangama. In fact, this is the only tea estate that is so close to the sea in the whole world. It lies 160 km from Colombo; 24 km from Galle Fort; and 6 Km inland from the main highway nestled between the evergreen forest and the vast Indian Ocean.

Virgin White Tea Estate- Handunugoda, Sri Lanka
Source: TripAdvisor

As we arrived at the estate, we could see women dressed in coats and plucking the tea leaves and there was a continuous music by birds in the plantation. The briefing about the estate began by plantation guide in minutes and this is how he went about the property. The total Handunugoda estate is spread over 150 acres, out of which 75 acres is only of tea and the balance 75 acres is of rubber, cinnamon, and coconut. The estate is not a mass producer of Tea but produces the only choicest collection of tea that matches International Standards.

Suruchi Tashi at Virgin White Tea Estate, Handunugoda, Sri Lanka

The Handunugoda estate manufactures 5 categories of tea: Black Tea, Oolong tea, green tea, white tea and Herbal infusions. To us, the most attractive were Virgin White Tea, so let’s start with it.

Total Duration for Tour: 1-5 -2 hrs

Best time to visit: Any day of the week, between 8:00 am- 4:30 pm

Story behind Virgin White Tea

The Virgin white tea estate produces Virgin white tea, completely untouched by hands. The white tea leaves here are harvested, following the Chinese rituals.

Haresting Virgin White Tea- at Virgin White tea estate, Handunugoda, Sri Lanka
Source: Tripadvisor

In the ancient era, the Chinese emperor Tsong and Tsang used to deploy the virgins to pick the leaves wearing white silk gloves, with a golden scissor into a golden bowl. The virgin white tea never touched the bare skin until it touched the lips of an Emperor. This high tea was only for the emperor and served to the rulers and dignitaries.

The Handunugoda estate still mimics this tradition except that the virgin concept now applies only to the tea and not to the pluckers. After explaining this; he kept on walking ahead and we were still lost in the leaves and his confident words.


Processing of White tea

Virgin White Tea is unique and it requires minimal processing. Each step while processing is done with special attention and care.

At dawn, as the first sunlight hits the tea estate, the unopened buds are carefully picked by tea pluckers in the bowls and placed in silk pouches. After plucking, the buds are spread over black flannel trays and are dried only using the filtered sunlight. When the bud dries completely, it is packed delicately in air tight containers using the soft gloves. Isn’t that interesting process for royal tea?

Virgin White Tea spread over Black Flannel surface trays - Virgin white tea estate, Sri lanka
Source: Herman Tea

Manufacturing of other Ceylon Tea (Black Tea)

The Black tea is manufactured after series of eight steps and the equipment used in the estate is more than 150 years old. So, Handunugoda estate is also referred as a Living and Working Museum.

Virgin White Tea Estate, Handunugoda- Living & Working Museum
Source: Tripadvisor

The process starts by plucking bud and tender leaves by hand and this is termed as Fine Plucking.  Then, the leaves are sorted to remove the coarse mature leaves, as they can affect the quality of tea. After sorting, leaves are withered by cool air to reduce moisture content. Withering make them more pliable and also activates certain elements in the leaf which are essential for quality tea. Next, the leaves are rolled. Rolling is performed at fixed room temperature to bring out the flavors of tea. It also gives the curved appearance of tea. After rolling the leaves turn golden brown and are further put to fermentation. The fermented leaves are called Dhools. Next, the leaves are Dried by conditioned air to reduce moisture content and deactivate fermenting enzymes.  From here, the tea is further moved for grading. The last step Packaging at Handunugoda is still done by hands in air tight containers.

Black tea at virgin white tea estate, Handunugoda, Sri lanka

Interesting Facts about Virgin White Tea

  • The average plantation worker picks 25 -30 kg of Black tea leaves in a day whereas, at Handunugoda estate, a damsel only picks 150 -160 grams of virgin white leaves in a day. That means 3.5 -4 kg in a month and 48 kg in a year.
  • White tea is delicate in flavors and aroma.
  • White tea has 10.11% antioxidants, highest of all the teas and other beverages. So, it is the healthiest tea in the world. Apart from this, white tea has many medical benefits. It is rich in vitamin A; reduces inflammation; prevent eye dryness and night blindness.
  • Virgin white tea is also one of the most expensive teas is the world. Usually, it is sold at a price of $1500 per kg.
  • Mariage Freres International situated at Faubourg Saint –Honore in central Paris is the only Tea Salon to stock this Herman Virgin White Tea.
  • The one teaspoon of exquisite white tea can make 3-4 cups of tea.


Visiting tea plantations and getting lost in the lush terraced landscapes is what we had dreamt of. But we never knew we will have step back into the colonial times along the coastal belt. We had one of a kind experience visiting Virgin White Tea estate, Handunugoda, and factory. The session was followed by a tea tasting along with chocolate cake,  in the owner’s bungalow verandah and it was good enough to seduce our senses.

Verandah of Virgin White Tea Estate, Handunugoda- where tea and cake was served
Source: TripAdvisor

Apart from this, there is a tea museum within the estate where one can taste almost 50 varieties of tea including virgin white tea and shop them from the tea shop. We highly recommend Virgin White Tea, Pure Lemongrass, and Rainforest tea, if you are willing to purchase. Climb upstairs from here to have a peek into old pictures and paintings on the walls and to have a panoramic view of a plantation.

Handunugoda Tea Museum; Virgin White Tea estate, Sri Lanka

 Handunugoda Tea Museum, Virgin White tea estate, Sri lanka

Contact Details: Handunugoda Tea Factory, Tittagalla, Ahangama, Sri Lanka.

Phone No:  (+94) 772065555/ 777713999/ 91 2286364

Email Id:  [email protected]

Website: www.hermanteas.com

Note: The Handunugoda or Virgin White  Tea estate at Sri Lanka, offers a free guided tour of the plantation and factory, along with tea at the end of a session.

And if you are a book lover, then do buy Herman autobiography- The Suicide Club: A Virgin Tea Planter’s Journey, which is highly entertaining and has great insights about his life, tea, and Sri Lanka, from the waning days of the British Raj to today.

We feel the visit to Virgin White Tea Estate was quite interesting if you too feel so please share it with your friends.

Also Read the complete Sri Lanka Itinerary

Virgin White Tea Estate, Handunugoda, Sri Lanka

Heritage Property near Galle: Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka

Grandiose Dutch estate in the woods, rich food, immaculate hospitality, peace and “We” time is what sums up our stay at 200 years old heritage property near Galle – Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka.

Apa-Villa-Illuketia, Sri lanka

After reaching the Colombo airport, we hired a cab and drove to the South coast of Sri Lanka till Galle. The distance was just 120 km from Colombo but the single road lane, non-stop chit chat with the driver, scenic landscapes, endless seascapes on one side and, comatose villages under the shade of palm trees on another side, turned the whole road trip to 6 hours. Trust us, the six hours passed away in a jiffy admiring Sri Lanka’s natural beauty.


It was almost evening when we reached Galle and our destination; Apa Villa Illuketia was further laid 5- 7 kilometers deep in the forests. As we started moving inland, the seascapes turned to lush green fields and the sound of ocean waves was taken away by birds chirping. The open blue sky turned dark by the thick canopy of swaying palm and bamboo trees.

Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka -Atrium with Pond

Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka

The Apa Villa Illuketia, a plantation heritage property is a mix of contemporary and traditional designs. It is modernized to the needs but has retained the ancient culture. The property is 200 years old; and a perfect live example of Island’s colonial past. It sits on 10 acres land and is surrounded by tropical gardens, botanical gardens, paddy fields and tea estates. So, the whole place is LUSH PLUSH with gardens and pool around. The birds and animals roam freely in the sky and on the ground. Currently, this magnificent estate house is owned by Hans Johannes Hofer, a German photographer, and owner of Travel Insight guides; Here is the link to his website for reference www.insightguides.com.

Welcome at Apa Villa Illuketia

As we reached the Villas, the porters greeted us with a warm smile and took us to the living room. The staff made us seated and handed the welcome drinks. We were awestruck by the room’s layout. The nine similar carved doors, two tier roofs with Balinese carvings, chandeliers, antique porcelains, Chinese cabinets and bamboo furniture added glamor to whole space. In the meanwhile check in formalities were completed, and we were directed to our Jasmine – Pond House Suite.

Verandah of Apa Villa Illuketia


The Apa Villa Illuketia has in total 6 suite rooms. The Hibiscus, Lotus, and Citronella are the suites in main house whereas Ginger and Jasmine are Pond house suites. Each suite has its own distinct interiors with open air shower and private garden.

As we were walking towards our Pond House suite, we were getting elated. The villa was overlooking natural Lotus pond and had a huge swing to sit and relax. The room was furnished with wood furnishings. It had a king sized ornamental bed with canopy, sitting area, plush open bathroom, shower, bathtub, upscale toiletries and enclosed private garden. The suite also has fans, air conditioner, and good connected Wi- Fi but no TV and DVD player.

Apa Villa Illuketia Jasmine suite
Source: APA-Villa-il luke tia-Sri Lanka.en.ww.lk
Pond House Suite - Washroom at Apa Villa Illuketia
Source: http://www.thevillaguide.com

There was a common open living room between Ginger and Jasmine Pond houses, hedging couches, armchairs, sun beds and dining table. It was a perfect place to dine, soak in sun and admire the exotic birds.

Common area between Ginger and Jasmine Pond House at Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri lanka
Source: http://www.hotelroomsearch.net/

The Apa Villa resort is tucked in between the tea estates and paddy fields. The huge verandahs with side seatings, all suites facing ponds, ponds covered with lotus flowers and plants, pool amidst the canopy of thick trees, flowering shrubs, and a variety of reptiles, birds make the whole place earthy, serene and close to nature.

Dining at Apa Villa Illuketia

The meals are served in the main house verandah, each time with a different setting. The Birds, monkeys, and cicadas play background music whereas the water channel runs alongside the corridor.

Verandha at Apa-Villa-Illuketia; where breakfast and dinner is served

Breakfast: is served from 7:30 am -10:30 am. It starts with a fresh juice and tropical fruits. Then the main course includes eggs, sausages, bacon or typical Sri Lankan breakfast (Pan – hoppers with or without egg, coconut milk curry and spicy sambol relish) with Ceylon tea and fresh island coffee.

Stretching before breakfast at pa Villa Illuketia, Sri lanka

Dinner:  is served from 6:30 pm -9:30 pm. It includes two – three courses of set meals. The cuisines vary from Sri Lankan, Singaporean to Seafood variations.

The in-between snacks are served till 5:30 in the evenings and one can choose these perfect cozy side seatings in the verandah with the garden views for munching.

The side seatings in Verandhas of Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka
Source: Tripadvisor

Activities & Amenities at Apa Villa Illuketia

Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka has one 25 meters long swimming pool with comfortable deck chairs enclosed in between the bamboos, tall trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Pool at Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka

Apart from this; there are many coffee table books, magazines, and novels to read and relax in the basking sun. They too have a pool table, TV room, and study room. The estate organizes cycling tours to the nearby villages, day trips to the tea estates, river trips, sightseeing to Galle and other nearby surroundings.

Sightseeing from Apa Villa Illuketia

The shuttle van runs from Apa Villa Illuketia which dropped us till the main road. From there we took the local bus to reach Galle city which was almost 5 kilometers. We explored Galle fort on foot and munched on pizza and drinks in the cafe. At the end of the day, we hired a bike at a very reasonable price for our future day’s exploration.

Galle Fort Streets: Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka
Source: Enviroreach

The second day of our trip started with a wonderful fresh breakfast, overlooking the gardens and lazing in the verandahs. By afternoon we thought of exploring the other beach towns Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, which lies at a distance of almost 5 km and 20 km respectively from Galle. These places are famous among hippies, surfers, and divers. They too have the perfect beaches to watch the sunset. You can check here the enthralling pictures of Sri Lanka beaches.Sunset at Unawatuna- Apa Villa Illuketia

Apart from this, on the third day, we rode our scooter to see Handunugoda Tea Estate in Ahangama. It took us total 30 minutes to reach. The Tea Factory is famous because of Virgin White Tea. This tea is completely untouched by hands. The factory is a living museum and it stills operates its more than 140 years old machinery.

The Virgin White Tea Factory- Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri lanka

The others attractions nearby are:

Peace Pagoda: The peace pagoda lies on the top of Rumasalla hill and gives serene views overlooking the Panoramic Ocean. One can go hiking or by bike till the top.

Views from Japanese Peace Pagoda: Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri lanka

Galle International Cricket Stadium: The Galle stadium was used as a race course by Britishers. Since last 100 years it is being used as a cricket stadium and since 1998 it has become an international cricket stadium.

Lighthouse: The lighthouse lies at the southern end of Galle fort and it has been there since 1848.

Shopping: Shop for beautiful pearls and check for the authentication certificate.


Overall Experience of Apa Villa Illuketia

If you are looking to unwind yourself, get tranquilized and spend some romantic moments together in the lap of nature, then this is a perfect place for You! The resort and rooms are beautifully handcrafted keeping the surroundings in mind. The services are impeccable. The moment you are here, you are away from the city’s hustle-bustle and clock stops for you.

In short, the resort is a perfect combination of modernization, traditionalism, luxury, and comfort. We adored each day staying here and these memories will stay with us forever.

Swing near Pond House at Apa Villa Illuketia

The Apa Villa’s have their another property Apa Villa Thalpe located 5 Kilometers away from Apa Villa Illuketia. The property is equally stunning and is located on the sea shore. The property has seven suites, blue pool and direct access to the beaches. We wanted to spend last two days here but couldn’t get the option. So choose to laze around at Apa Villa Thalpe for a day in the pool, watching waves in the Indian Ocean. Later on, we had a sumptuous lunch here.

Pool at Apa Villa Thalpe: Apa villa Illuketia

Lunch at Apa Villa Thalpe garden: Lies at a distance of 5 Km from Apa Villa Illuketia

Contact Details:

Apa Villa Thalpe: +94 91 2283320; Apa Villa Illuketia: +94 914-381411

Email Id: [email protected]

Hans Hoefer (Owner) Mobile: +65 96196170; E-mail: [email protected]

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Heritage Property near Galle: Apa Villa Illuketia, Sri Lanka