Whilst savouring a deliciously fresh brew out on the veranda of The Lavender House accompanied by an alluring assortment of pastries, sandwiches and sweets regally proffered on a three-tiered silver platter, it's easy to get swept up in the nostalgia. High Tea like this is, of course, a British institution but it's one that's been enjoyed in Sri Lanka for almost as long.
Dating back to the Victorian era, Sri Lanka's iconic Hill Country bungalows were built to house the families of British tea planters. Fashioning their properties in much the same way as back home, these uprooted colonials strived to live life as normally as possible; they maintained English country gardens, formed numerous societies and (unsurprisingly) upheld the tradition of High Tea. Although they've long since departed the island, their way of life lives on with a certain fervour.
Such is the case at The Lavender House. Dating back to the 1890s its vintage is evident not only in its granite block walling and teak shingle roofing but rather unusually in its carefully preserved height chart of residents and guests. The eminent Sir Thomas Lipton's name is scribbled atop this highly glossed plinth whilst the earliest inscription is dated 1902. The latest entry is that of Emily Molly Whight in 2005, daughter of the Melbournian couple responsible for gorgeously revamping this sought-after five-bedroom hilltop retreat.
Here, finery is offered in many forms, not least in the choice of tea. In June 1998 the Hellbodde Tea Estate on which the bungalow stands made history when its 44 kilos of tea - the final lot in London's last ever tea auction - sold for an astounding £555 per kilogram, the highest in the auction's 319-year existence. Commemorating this historic achievement is a plaque in the nearby Hellbodde Tea Factory; stroll through the tea fields for a peek, a taster and a tour.