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Discover the beauty of Ooty's tea plantations during monsoon

Discover the beauty of Ooty's tea plantations during monsoon

By Aquib Nawab

01 Jul, 2024

India’s monsoon spells bring about a time of revivification and renovation. The arid landscape is magically converted into verdant foliage as soon as showers fall and life that was dormant reawakens.

A better place to partake in this magical metamorphosis cannot be found than during monsoons at the undulating tea estates of Ooty .

Introduction to Ooty and its famous tea plantations

Situated within the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, Ooty is rightly known as the “Queen of Hill Stations” in India. Being at an elevation of 2,240 metres, it has a moderate climate all year round, which is ideal for tea cultivation.

The teas grown here are famous throughout India and internationally too. In fact, one of India's most exported varieties is Nilgiri tea. Covering hillsides around Ooty, these tea gardens make their presence felt with their soft green coloration. When viewed from above, these perfectly spaced rows create the illusion of a huge quilt on top of the hills.

Misty rows of tea shrubs in Ooty's valleys | Credits: Canva

Monsoon magic in Ooty

Ooty features a subtropical highland climate, with summer temperatures generally ranging between 20°C and 25°C. The wet season lasts from June until September and accounts for most rainfall in this region annually.

By May, pre-monsoon showers will come down, casting the deciduous trees into lushness again. This signals the arrival of monsoons, where there will be an earthy, petrichor smell before long after rain. For people living here, though, first rains have a distinct fragrance that is sweetly charged.

The low-hanging heavy rain clouds, mist covering the tea plantations, and light drizzling rain—all these factors create magical moments one should never fail to witness while touring this area during the rainy season.

Raindrops glistening on Ooty's tea leaves | Credits: Canva

Exploring Ooty’s tea estates during monsoons

1. Stroll through lush tea estates

Take a peaceful stroll through Ooty's sprawling tea estates in the monsoon. Lush greenery and rhythmic raindrops create a serene landscape. Breathe the refreshing scents and feel the soft, damp soil underfoot. Ooty's estates let you immerse in incredible natural beauty and understand why this region produces some of the world's best tea.

2. See how tea is made

In most tea estates, there are factories where you can witness firsthand how hand-picked tea leaves go through various processes before becoming a final product. The freshly plucked green leaves undergo withering, rolling, fermenting, and drying, which makes them into black aromatic tea.

Watching how tea is made becomes interesting during monsoon season since it produces a flavour profile that cannot be found anywhere else due to the influence of rain. Fresh monsoon tea has a certain mellowness and fullness that no other type possesses.

3. Visit the Ooty tea museum

To learn more about Ooty's tea culture and history, visit the Tea Museum located on Doddabetta Road. Situated on one acre of land, this place boasts an impressive collection of vintage tea processing equipment and artefacts connected with the development process within the Nilgiris region. It is located 11 minutes (3.3 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty.

The artworks displayed exhibit a progression of techniques from the beginning of tea making in this area to mechanised factory production. Do not miss the documentary on how tea is made, which takes place here.

4. Take a sip of Nilgiri tea

Without tasting some hot, fresh, locally produced Nilgiri tea, no trip to Ooty’s tea estates is complete. In one of those small cafes built in British architecture, you can always have your fill of the sweet-smelling tea alongside cookies or onion bhajia biscuits as drops of rain fall outside.

Go for a picnic beside some bushes and make your own hot, invigorating cup of tea while enjoying the magnificent view all around. The taste is so rich; you will never find such flavour anywhere else.

5. Photography at the scenic plantations

With their bright green bushes against dark, cloudy skies, Ooty’s plantations are a photographer’s delight, especially during monsoons. You just have to see these bush lines vanishing into fog to believe it.

If you take photographs there, they will look like picture postcards that you will treasure forever. Get yourself set up for shooting photos from above with clouds over your head and lush vegetation beneath. There is an incredible photo opportunity at every corner. So don’t forget your umbrella and raincoat if you want to spend hours taking pictures in a heavy downpour!

Fresh petrichor scent lingering around Ooty's plantations | Credits: Canva

The best tea estates in Ooty during the monsoon

Though each estate has its own uniqueness, there are several top-notch tea factories for anyone planning a monsoon trip to Ooty:

1. Doddabetta tea estates

These estates located near Doddabetta Peak offer fantastic views over the mist-encased valleys below. It is located 11 minutes (3.3 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty. It makes a good place for photography with a scenic viewpoint on site. A visit to their factory will give you an idea of what the whole process looks like.

2. Korakundah tea estates

Colonial bungalows and factories characterise Korakundah, one of the oldest tea estates in the region. It is located 1 hour, 29 minutes (47.8 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty. For an authentic experience, you can watch some women clad in brightly coloured saris picking tea leaves.

3. Glenmorgan tea estate

With a 1936 factory building that is still standing on strong bricks over 300 hectares of land, Glenmorgan is worth a tour for those interested in history and architecture. It is located 44 minutes (20.6 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty.

4. Highfield tea factory

Located near Emerald Lake, Highfield sells different varieties of Nilgiri teas and offers fresh batches. They also prepare tasty masala chai during monsoons. It is located 54 minutes (25.4 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty.

5. Singara tea estate

Singara Estate has become well known for its innovative machines, like rotorvane pluckers, which help people understand how tea is produced in modern times. It is located 50 minutes (21.1 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty.

6. Coonoor tea estates

You will find more peaceful estates like Droog or Chamraj around the Coonoor area, unlike most touristy places. It is located 57 minutes (21.8 km) away from The Hosteller Ooty. Visit such estates to see the locals pick tea manually at their farms, like they have always done.

An ode to the monsoon over Ooty's valley | Credits: Canva

Things to remember when going to Ooty during the monsoon

  • If you want to visit the estate during this period, it is good to have umbrellas and raincoats, as well as waterproof shoes.
  • The roads may be muddy and slippery.
  • Weekdays are better if you wish to avoid crowds.
  • These estates operate from Monday through Friday between 9 am and 4 pm.
  • Hire a local guide who knows much about Ooty’s tea culture since they can share interesting stories or facts about it with you during your visit to the plantation.
  • Check if there are any activities concerning collection or manufacturing happening when you visit so that you get an opportunity to interact with workers at the farm who will reveal their lives and experiences to you.
  • Try various sorts of Nilgiri teas in order to differentiate their look, smell, taste, etc.

Raindrops glistening on Ooty's tea leaves | Credits: Canva

Final thoughts

During the monsoon months, which create an atmosphere for visiting, it would be worth taking time off your busy schedule to visit Ooty’s tea estates, which are painted with emerald green.

This is something that all lovers of tea and nature should try out. The rain gives the tea leaves a unique taste and smell referred to as Nilgiri Tea.

While walking past wet tea bushes, participating in production processes, and engaging friendly locals, you will have an entirely different way of looking at your morning cup of tea. Feel the visuals, sounds, smells, and tastes of Ooty’s tea gardens. Get lasting memories from this monsoon wonderland.

Misty trails winding through Ooty's tea bushes | Credits: Canva

Make The Hosteller your monsoon home base

After wandering Ooty's scenic tea estates, unwind at The Hosteller's heritage property nestled between the plantations. Share your estate adventures around a bonfire with fellow travellers in the outdoor common areas. Retreat to the charming cottage-style rooms featuring vintage furniture and cosy Nilgiri tea. Play badminton, bond over travel stories, or get lost in a book from their library - this hostel feels like home.

With Ooty's top estates just a short walk or drive away, The Hosteller is the perfect base to explore the region's natural beauty. Recharge yourself with views of the lush hillsides from their verandahs. Inhale the refreshing pine-scented air. Make magical memories during the spectacular monsoons. Book your stay at The Hosteller Ooty today and experience their warm hospitality and heritage charm as the perfect complement to your tea estate getaway.

Verdant tea shrubs soaked by Ooty's drizzle | Credits: Canva

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