Ok, so I suppose I am a typical British girl. There is nothing I love more than a good brew. It’s the first thing I do in a morning and the last thing I do at night. Somehow sitting down with a mug of tea always makes dark skies seem a little brighter and heavy hearts a little lighter.
So of course, while travelling through Malaysia, there was one place I absolutely had to visit. The Cameron Highlands, the countries very own tea producing utopia.
It seemed to appear out of nowhere. One minute I was surrounded by trees and then, like magic, the green ripples through the mountains came into view, the morning misty light creating an atmosphere that shimmered, like glitter was falling from the sky. The beauty of the landscape dazzled me, and made my heart skip a beat. I meandered through the patchwork quilt of tea leaves, a bright luminous yellow butterfly fluttering along by my side. In the distance a white speck amongst the green bobbed up and down, collecting nature’s bounty.
‘Welcome to Malaysia!’
The greetings came thick and fast as the locals arrived in their cars for their Sunday morning tea break. My hand was raised in a permanent wave as I headed in the same direction they were going; only I was on foot. Driving through the plantation doesn’t have the same intoxicating effect on you like walking does. On foot you can delve deep into the seams, on foot you are shrouded in that smell. That pure, heavenly smell of thousands of pure, untouched tea leaves. I stood with my eyes closed, breathing in the tea perfumed air, feeling it move through my nostrils, down to the tips of my toes. Wishing that I could capture the aroma of magic and put it in a bottle to carry with me always.
‘Snake,’ someone shouted, followed by an enormous round of laughter.
You’re trying to scare the wrong person, buddy, I thought to myself. Seeing a snake slithering past me would only enhance the blissful experience I was having.
I eventually arrived at the factory. I was given a tour of the old machines that looked like they had been in use since the days when the industrial revolution began. And then, finally, we got to the main event, the tasting. And oh what a wonderful taste it was! It was the best mug of milky, sweet tea I had tasted since I left home, and after months drinking black tea, it was a warm and comforting experience that was received with enormous gratitude.
After hiking miles through the plantations in the highlands, and replenishing my thirst with copious amounts of tea, it was time to leave and return to urban, city life. As I sat on the bus, looking out of the window at the hills that looked like they were covered in broccoli, a little yellow butterfly approached the glass. She had been my companion as I had walked through the Highlands and now it appeared she had come to say her goodbyes, and ensure my safe departure.