BOH Sungai Palas Tea Estate (A Complete Guide)

Posted by shloke 20 December 2012
I LOVE Cameron Highlands. Breathtaking scenery, rolling hills, Tudor-styled cottages and exquisite tea estate atmosphere ~ truly a HEAVEN on EARTH. My last trip to Cameron Highlands was three years ago and I enjoyed every moment of my time spent at this place.

On my recent trip to Cameron Highlands, I had high expectations. But then the bad news started to appear. "Land clearing rampant in Cameron Highlands in the last four months", "Cameron Highlands in terrible shape due to land clearing and water pollution", "Illegal land clearing fouls water source for 13 farms in Cameron Highlands" and more! WOW! Are you kidding me? Daylight land clearing in Cameron Highlands?! This is insane! What's wrong with these people? Two words...HUMAN GREED! >.<

Despite all that, I boarded a local coach all the way from Pudu Sentral (formerly Puduraya Terminal, Malay: Hentian Puduraya is the main bus station terminus in Kuala Lumpur) to Cameron Highlands. A whooping 4.5 hours bus ride. The coach left Pudu Sentral 8:30 am and I arrived at Freesia Bus Terminal, Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands at 1:00 p.m in the afternoon.

Tanah Rata is the most popular destination among backpackers, resulting in a large collection of budget hotels, inns and lodges. Talking about budget stay, I had sleepless nights in Kang's Traveler Hotel....stone hard pillows, malfunction water heater, and night bugs. ARGH! I'd rather not go into details, but this shall be my last stay in Kang's Hotel :(

On Day 2 of my Cameron Highlands trip, I spent almost four hours exploring BOH Tea Plantation (Estate) in Sungai Palas, Cameron Highlands. The weather here is SO UNPREDICTABLE! One moment it rains so heavily, then the next moment you have the sun come out. I managed to track down a small group of tea pickers on a secluded hill. The trail is a bit tricky and steep, but again for a seasoned trekker like me it is just a piece of cake.

Upon reaching them (the tea pickers), the supervisor looked at me with grave disapproval. He told me bluntly to my face that I need an official letter to take pictures. WTF? Are you kidding me? I tried to explain to him that I'm NO reporter, photos NOT for commercial use. I'm just an ordinary photog. After much explanation, he finally relented and gave his permission. JEEZ!

Before diving into more details, let us first take a look at some COOL FACTS about BOH Tea Plantation and Estate in Sungai Palas, Cameron Highlands:

  1. In 1885, the surveyor William Cameron, described the 1,500 m high Cameron Highlands as a fine plateau with gentle slopes, shut in by lofty mountains. His account was the first record of the ascent on the mountain range although the native Orang Asli had been visiting the mountains for centuries
  2. BOH Plantations Sdn. Bhd. has a total of 8000 acres planted with tea. The BOH Tea Plantation, which is located at Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia is also the largest tea plantation in Southeast Asia.
  3. The current slogan of BOH tea products is "BOH ada Ummph!" (BOH has Ummph!).
  4. BOH Plantations was founded in 1929 by J.A. Russell, a British businessman during the British colonial era in Malaya. He was optimistic of the tea plantation business due to huge demands despite of the world-wide Great Depression at that time. As a result of the potential, he applied for and was granted a concession of land for his first tea garden in Habu, Cameron Highlands.
  5. Today, BOH Plantations owns four tea gardens – Habu, Sungei Palas and Fairlie situated in Cameron Highlands; and Bukit Cheeding in Selangor. To ensure the freshness of its tea products, BOH Plantations also set up a packaging factory near its main garden. BOH tea products are distributed both in domestic and international markets.
  6. The Fairlie tea garden utilises some of the most modern machines in the world. 
  7. With a production capacity approaching 3000 kg per hectare, the company produces 4 million kg of tea annually which translates to about 5.5 million cups per day. This represents about 70% of all tea produced in Malaysia.
  8. Today BOH exports its brand of prime grade teas to various countries including the USA, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore and Brunei. 

NOTE: Facts and numbers are obtained from Wikipedia, Brunei Times and CameronHighlands.com.

Walking along the paths taken by tea workers can't be that bad, honestly. This is how you get to see their daily routines up close. I'll let my pictures do the the talking. If you enjoy reading my photo blog article, click LIKE and share it with your friends :)


Title: BOH Tea Center, Sungai Palas
About: That's the Sungai Palas Boh Tea Center. Located on a hilltop, amidst rows of tea bushes and close to Mount Brinchang, it offers spectacular views from a 20 foot overhanging platform. The Tea Centre is home to the Tea'ria, a souvenir and tea shop as well as an exhibition area with comprehensive information about the tea manufacturing process. 

Photo Technical Details
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/60 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/6.3, FOCAL LENGTH: 26mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200


Title: Snip, snip and snip
About: Traditionally, tea cutters with modified garden shears trimmed the outer layers of the plants that line the steep mountainsides. Today, many green tea plants are trimmed mechanically but it's still possible to spot the occasional picker hand trimming the bushes.

Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/1250 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 105mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200


Title: Into the basket
About:  Only the bud and the first two leaves are plucked using a small modified hand shear. The worker then throws the picked leaves over his shoulder into the wicker basket carried on his back.

Green tea leaves are hand plucked every two weeks when the new growth or flush appears, a very labor intensive process but an experienced plucker can harvest up to 200 kilograms of leaf per day.

Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/1250 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 105mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200


Title: Supervising
About: I had a hard time trying to convince the supervisor (the man on top) that I'm NOT a journalist.  I'm just a typical hobbyist photographer. 

Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/160 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/6.3, FOCAL LENGTH: 105mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Off the beaten path
About: The Sungai Palas Boh Tea Center perched on top a small hill, right next to a gigantic tree. I decided to walk off the beaten path, all the way to the back of the tea center. One of my favorite shots :)


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTER SPEED: 1/200 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/6.3, FOCAL LENGTH: 18mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Free housing
About: What is profound is the housing and social structure that is provided for the workers: basic wooden housing lines the road to the plantation, as do a primary school, a clinic and several houses of worship: a temple, a mosque and a Christian church.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/200 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/7.1, FOCAL LENGTH: 18mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Abstract
About: Halfway walking, I found an Indian temple with side wall painted red and white stripes. A broken wooden ladder was lying right next to the wall. LOVE the contrast :)


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/320 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/9, FOCAL LENGTH: 62mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Pigeon
About: Domestic pet pigeon in a wooden cage, hanging on one of the workers house.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/125 s, ISO: 140, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 80mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Busy as bee
About: A tea plantation worker empties cut leaves into a wicker basket in the beautiful hilltop region of Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia. It takes up to five years for tea bushes to come to maturity after planting. The leaves are plucked in regular 14 day cycles, with experienced pickers able to harvest up to 200 kilograms of leaf a day. 


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/800 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 105mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Happy - a basket full of tea leaves
About: Despite the rain-or-shine, labor-intensive duties and low pay, the tea picking job provides income and, in BOH tea workers, on-site basic housing are provided free. The tea pickers are mostly hailed from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/800 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 105mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Concentration
About: The weather here at Cameron Highlands can be quite unpredictable at times. One moment it could be sunny and warm, the next few hours, it was raining cats and dogs. The tea pickers were spotted at one of the secluded hill. I decided to climbed up the hill and snapped some pictures. A tricky trail. Luckily, I stumbled upon a BOH truck driver who gave me the proper direction.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/640 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/5.3, FOCAL LENGTH: 62mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Working up
About: The tea pickers usually work in pairs, using a 3 feet long hand-held petrol-driven shearing machine, which cuts off the new shoots and blows them into a plastic bag attached to the machine. 

Occasionally the pickers work alone (supervised by a senior picker) using hand shears and a plastic bucket on the least-accessible slopes.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/125 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 58mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: Moving on
About: Today most of the tea leaf pickers are immigrants on work visas from Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Each one comes for a minimum of 2 years to live on the plantations working six days a week.

They are paid by the kilo of tea leaves they collect. One kilo is valued at 20 cents.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/125 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/5.6, FOCAL LENGTH: 24mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: On the green slopes
About: A lone tea picker on a secluded slope in Sungai Palas BOH Plantation. A steep and slippery trail, but I managed to climbed up the slope to obtained some up close shots :)

Many high-quality tea plants are cultivated at elevations of up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level: at these heights, the plants grow more slowly and acquire a better flavor.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/250 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/8, FOCAL LENGTH: 35mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200


Title: Bountiful harvest
About: Rain or shine, there's always bountiful harvest in BOH's tea plantation.

Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/320 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/9, FOCAL LENGTH: 38mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: To the factory
About: Only the most tender leaves are picked every morning at Sungai Palas BOH’s tea plantation. These are immediately transported using trucks to the tea factories to be processed for the flavor and aroma unique only to BOH.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/250 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/8, FOCAL LENGTH: 28mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: To the tea centre
About: The BOH Plantation at Sungai Palas, Cameron Highlands has a unique cafe where tourists can enjoy a cup of tea with a panoramic view of the estate.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/100 s, ISO: 400, F-STOP: f/5, FOCAL LENGTH: 18mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: The decades old basket
About: A rope woven basket on display at the BOH tea center.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/15 s, ISO: 1600, F-STOP: f/4.8, FOCAL LENGTH: 42mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: The tea roller
About: Carved on the gigantic tea roller, the inscription reads: 32" Economic tea Roller, Sole Makers, Walker Sons & Co. Ltd, Colombo Iron Works, Colombo.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/100 s, ISO: 140, F-STOP: f/5, FOCAL LENGTH: 18mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

Title: The tea leaves
About: These green tea leaves on Sungai Palas BOH Plantation (Estate) are SUPERSIZE! I was holding some leaves of Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. The smaller the leaf, the more expensive the tea.


Photo Technical Details:
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/200 s, ISO: 100, F-STOP: f/7.1, FOCAL LENGTH: 50mm, CAMERA: Nikon D3200

BOH Tea Plantation (Estate) Sungai Palas—Getting there, Maps and Directions:

By car:
Sungai Palas Tea Plantation (Estate) is accessible from a small road turn a few kilometers North of Brinchang town. To be exact, as you head North, Kea's Farm to your right should be a good landmark to indicate that a left-turn into this tea estate is eminent. Of course, signboards are put along the way to guide you.

By bus:
In Cameron Highlands, the Regal buses ply daily routes from Ringlet to Brinchang using the main road, consequently passing by most major tourist attractions along the way. However, the schedules are rather haphazard, though technically, they are supposed to run on an hourly basis. 

The Regal public bus service SUCKS BIG TIME! SPAD needs to check on these peeps :(

By taxi:
Taxi services from Tanah Rata include Ringlet (per car RM15), Brinchang (RM6), Sungai Palas Estate (RM20) and Boh Tea Estate (RM25). For touring around, a taxi costs about RM25 per hour, or you can go up to Gunung Brinchang and back for RM70.

Tanah Rata Taxi Hub Contact Number: +6054912355



7 Days Weather Outlook for Cameron Highland from Malaysia Meteorological Department

Opening hours and contact details:

The Sungei Palas Tea Centre is open daily – except Monday – from 9 am to 4:30 pm. 
Admission to the factory visit is free and information tours are conducted approximately every 30 minutes.

Sungei Palas Tea Centre,
Jalan Gunung Brinchang, 
Brinchang, Cameron Highlands.
Phone: +605-4962096

Email: info@boh.com.my

Google Maps:


View Larger Map

BOH Tea Plantation (Estate) Sungai Palas—Things to Do and See:

  1. Learn about the tea plantation in Cameron Highlands, the benefits of tea and the fascinating history of BOH Plantations who was a pioneer in the tea industry since 1929. That's 83 years ago! 
  2. Visit the adjacent tea factory to observe how natural and simple the tea making process really is. 
  3. Take a picture near the six foot diameter solid brass tea rolling table at the main entrance. 
  4. Savour the various teas uniquely manufactured by BOH in Malaysia. 
  5. Admire the superb views of the estate from a 20 foot overhanging wooden platform. 
  6. Try the yummy snacks and light meals available at the Tea’ria. Taste scones, chicken pie, Boh Ice Lemon Tea, Cameronian Pot of Tea and more!
Last updated December 22nd, 2012 (12:33 p.m.)

3 comments

  1. Hi Shloke,

    Very nice articles you got here. All the pictures is fascinating.

    Keep it up. I really enjoy it

    Greetings from us,
    Itching And Burning Sensation

     
  2. Mr Lonely Says:
  3. visiting here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    Regards,
    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

     
  4. Tina Ryan Says:
  5. I really love this post. Your method of explaining the whole thing in this post is in fact pleasant, everyone be capable of effortlessly be aware of it, Love the pictures as well.. Thanks a lot.


    www.travelvisaaustralia.com

     
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shloke
Traveling & photography are the most rewarding & enriching experiences in my life. Photography is all about discovery, enjoying myself, having adventure, learning people & nature. The greatest experience for me is the connection I felt with NATURE. If you haven’t seen Malaysia, you haven’t seen the world! My photography works are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.
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