Mattakelle Estate masters art of tea manufacture

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Wins ‘Ralston Tissera’ award four consecutive times
“Tea manufacture is an art. You can’t just achieve the best, you have to live it,” said Gimhan Jayathilake, Deputy General Manager, Mattakelle Estate on the credo followed by the estate management. Nestling at an elevation of over 1,000 metres, the air at the Mattakelle Estate factory is filled with the aroma of rich, fragrant tea. The tasting room has its own ‘wall of fame,’ certificates showcasing Mattakelle Estate’s winning the Ralston Tissera Memorial Award for ‘Excellence in Tea Manufacture’. Inaugurated in 2008 in collaboration with the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA), to encourage Planters and their Associates, the Ralston Tissera Memorial Award for ‘Excellence in Tea Manufacture’ is presented in memory of the legendary tea manufacturing expert and prominent planter. The accolade is conferred on the estate which records the highest Gross Sale Average (GSA) in the ‘Western High Grown Catalogue’. At the recently held 20th Annual General Meeting of the Nuwara Eliya District Planters’ Association, Mattakelle Estate prevailed once again winning the prestigious Award, confirming its supremacy across the whole Western High Grown sector in a highly competitive market. Mattakelle Estate has continued its leadership amongst all estates gaining respect and has retained an inimitable distinction across the whole Western High Grown sector. The Estate has triumphed, winning the award four times in a row. In 2013, Mattakelle achieved an average of Rs. 526.71, an increase from Rs. 474.71 the previous year. A proud recipient of the award, Jayathilake firmly believes that it is the hard work, dedication and direct involvement of the workers that have led to this esteemed recognition. “We have a highly motivated team, staff and employees” he said. He notes that as a result of being the recipient of the awards consecutively and where no other Estate has held the award consecutively for even two years, Mattakelle has gained both recognition and reputation among the local tea industry. The Estate staff and workers understand the prestige attached to the coveted award applies to them too and they feel valued and special and remain loyal employees. Jayatilake elaborated that because of the high GSA price received from the Western High Grown – the staff too are incentivized. For even during a lean month, where low production is foreseen, the estate is in a position to offer employees daily work. The tangible benefits accrued to the staff and workers in consequence of Mattakelle’s consistently high standard of manufacture, generates a positive economic return as well as substantial social value in the entire tea industry. Commending this extraordinary achievement the Secretary General of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, Malin Goonetileke says: “Mattakelle Estate has managed to maintain their prices, well above average, in a competitive industry, which is testament to their hard work on maintaining the quality of their tea. This focus has led to them winning this award four times consecutively, which is unprecedented.” Mattakelle Estate has recognized that International Quality Certifications too are an investment to boost improved productivity and higher employee morale. The Estate has received SLS ISO 22000:2005 quality certification, is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) and attained Rainforest Alliance Certification, which works towards conserving biodiversity while simultaneously improving livelihoods and maintaining high sustainability standards. Focusing on quality and consistency, Jayathilake said. “We have never sacrificed the crop, even for lack of land but at the same time we have doubled the profit of the company. Our focus is on consistency. We have zero customer complaints. We never spray pesticides. We have a good relationship with buyers and we make tea according to their requirements. You have to be quality oriented both as a manufacturer and a planter. The willing support and encouragement of corporate management has been an added source of strength.” He added: “It is important to follow good agricultural practices as well as good manufacturing practices 100% perfectly. If not, you might lose the taste of Ceylon Tea.” It leaves little doubt that Mattakelle is a premier estate, exceeding expectations. Happy workers and staff will certainly contribute towards the continued productivity of the land and a buoyant tea industry. As the spirit of success wafts over its boundaries, Mattakelle’s winning streak will endure and remain a connoisseur’s choice.