Sri Lankan Tea Tasting in Lima

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The tea tasting costs 25 soles. The tasting is only Mlesna brand tea, one of the leading brands of tea in the world. This is the only Sri Lankan tea shop in Peru. The teacher was clearly bewitched by her time in Sri Lanka and that shows in her presentation. I have been to tea plantations in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (although, I never got around to writing about that part because I was too interested in other aspects of Sylhet) so I sort of understood her fascination.

The store is filled with artwork, cups, plates, bags, and many other things to buy. It is a bit like an artists collective as the artists also own and work in the store.

I’d say to go on a South Asia kick and eat at Dhaasu before or after…


Buying Tea In Sri Lanka – Rainy Weather Drink

Different types of tea.
Different types of tea.

The monsoon in Bogota makes me want to drink lots of tea. Also, I want to watch British shows while cradling my teacup of Earl Grey tea. Of course, in many places like Sri Lanka, they drink tea even when it’s not raining.

The tea shop business card.
The tea shop sales staff in front of a wall of tea for purchase.

When I was in Sri Lanka, I went on a tea shop tour and discovered that the finest tea, made from “silver tip” leaves (the pale newest leaves at the top of the tea plant dry to a silverish color), is too subtle for me. I like Earl Grey. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the bergamot.

A cup of silver tip tea at the tea shop.
A cup of silver tip tea at the tea shop.

I also heartily suggest that people try using real loose leaf tea. The aroma alone will make you a convert. Enjoy a cuppa!

The tea factory.
The tea factory.

The Best and the Worst Fruit in the World

The mangosteen, succulent luminescent segments inside the dull hard padded
The mangosteen, succulent luminescent segments inside the padded exterior.

In preparation for my goal in Colombia to try 100 kinds of fruit that I’ve never tasted before, I was thinking back to the best and worst fruit I’ve had so far. Surprisingly, it is not durian.

So far, the best fruit I’ve tried is the mangosteen. The mangosteen, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia, has an aubergine brownish color and carapace-like leaves on the top. Inside, the pulpy exterior is red and bleeds like the blood of berries. The edible parts are the white segments inside. A few of these segments have a large soft pit inside. The other segments have no pit so they glide down like manna. Having looked coast to coast for this fruit in the U.S., I had just about given up eating it here. But, then I went to a local “Little Vietnam” or Eden Center, in Falls Church, Virginia, and there, sitting on the sidewalk, was a lady selling mangosteens. At $16, the price for a bag for these well-traveled, dessicated, and bruised fruit was exorbitant.

The worst I’ve tried so far is the wood apple. The wood apple, which I tried in Sri Lanka, is brown, pulpy, and fibrous with the flavor of tree stump.

When I told one of my friend about my new challenge, it turned out that he had actually written a book on fruit. With the weary look of a man who has chewed his way through hundreds of bushels of fruit, he said to me, “Get a juicer. You will get tired of all that chewing.”

In Colombia, they have 150 official commercial types of fruit so my goal of 100 shouldn’t be too hard. Some of the names of the fruit I may find dance like sugar plum fairies in my head: curubas, badeas, caimones, chontaduros, guamas, mamuncillos, mairoños, grocellas, piñuelos, zapotes, and nísperos…


Homesick for Sri Lankan Egg Hopper

Egg hopper for breakfast.
Egg hopper for breakfast.

The moment I put the first bite of the Sri Lankan egg hopper in my mouth, I understood with my heart why this was a dish that would make me severely homesick. The “hopper” is a simple crepe served with chutney and pickle… the egg hopper is made by cooking an egg in the base of the mini-wok hopper pan. The pickle or sauce is more like a salsa, chopped up coconut and herbs…

Typical "pickle" or sauce to go with any dish.
Typical “pickle” or sauce to go with any dish.

What’s Better Than Elephants in the Wild?

For $100, we got our own jeep, mud and all, for four hours of elephant spotting on safari in Sri Lanka. While we got tossed and whiplashed through the eco-park near Sigiriya (the rock one must climb in Sri Lanka), and hung on for dear life in the flatbed part of the safari jeep, I enjoyed every minute of the roller coaster ride. The five or six jeeps all talk to each other to guarantee that we will see elephants. Ironically, we saw the first two groups right next to the highway. Later we saw a small herd munching away as the sun set.

And what is better than seeing elephants with friends? Baby elephants!