Cameron Highlands has gone through unprecedented change in the last century. It has become one of Malaysia’s top tourist destinations and the country’s most prominent food supplier. Vegetables and flowers are in focus, although a visit to the tea plantation is a must. After all, the cold mountain air calls for a cup of tea, if possible, with scones. Here are some great ideas about where to get the best afternoon tea in Cameron Highlands. However, if you are eager to have a view and a cup, then BOH Tea Plantation is a place for you.
Meaning of BOH?
The meaning behind the name is a mystery with a few possibilities. Whether the name stands for the initials “Best of Highlands” or is a tribute from tea origins Bohlia in the Szechuan province or Bohea Hills in China’s Fujian province is up for a debate. Also, the early tea trade practice in China appointed high-quality tea leaves as the “bohea.” A simple guess might also point to the meaning of the mandarin word boh, which is precious happiness.
Story of BOH Tea
In 2019 BOH tea celebrated its 90th anniversary, and what a journey they have been through! Still, the essential BOH’s values stay the same, like creating well-loved teas through mastering the art of tea from tea bush to teacup. Another example of their success-oriented mindset is a constant search for ways to give back to the local communities.
Beginning of BOH Tea Plantation
Growing tea in Cameron Highlands was on John Archibald Russell’s mind from the global market crash in the 1920s. Before he carried out his tea plantation idea in 1929, John Archibald Russell made most of the British colonial era with numerous diverse business arrangements. After leaving England as a child in the 1890s, he had many opportunities to gain a wide range of knowledge and partnership. He most likely came across the veteran tea planter A.B. Milne on some business trip to Sri Lanka. With whom the tea planting works began as soon as the virgin jungle was gone. Whey started planting tea bushes, Cameron Highlands had no roads and no community to land a helping hand.
Oxidation is a process that defines tea type through the visible color changes in the tea leaves. Once the tea leaves become dark, the black tea comes out tastier than ever. That is because oxidation affects the looks, taste, and aroma of the tea leaves. More prolonged oxidation changes the tea leaves also in their structure, leading to the unique antioxidants known as the theaflavins. That is why Oolong tea is a great middle that comes with the health benefits of both green and black tea.
Second BOH Generation
John Archibald Russell’s widow, Kathleen, kept the BOH business going despite financial difficulties. Her situation got worse once the Japanese occupied the plantations during World War II. Not much could be done until the war ended when their son Tristan joined the business. Finally, the turbulent times were over when Malaysia gained independence, and the Russell family was ready for some serious business.
Actually, the first BOH plantation grew to four plantations quickly, and Tristan was looking to modernize the tea manufacturing at every stage. New machinery cut the cost while a very successful campaign made the BOH tea the most popular tea in Malaysia.
First corporate mascot in Asia, Mr. BOH, and the phrase “BOH Ada Ummph!” is an example of a very successful advertising campaign.
Third BOH Generation
Tristan’s daughter Caroline took over the CEO position in 2003. She continued her father’s environmental actions such as “new home for elephants” and “new home for orangutans.” Under her supervision, the BOH tea assortment expanded along with the new Tea Centre. Now they are focusing on more sustainable packaging and delivering the desired taste that demanding consumers’ love.
BOH is Tea grower and tea seller in one. That is extremely rare in the tea business and is a challenge and advantage in one.
BOH Tea Plantation Tour
How often can you drink the tea right on the estate where it was grown? The experience certainly enriches and expands horizons no matter the background. That and the stunning views from Tristan’s terrace at the Sungai Palas Tea Garden are a Cameron Highland must-have. We should also mention the tea factory you can tour and join in the tea tasting session.
Naturally, one can look around the original Habu plantation, Fairlie Tea Garden, and Bukit Cheeding in Selangor. All plantations produce about 4 million kg of tea a year, picked on about 1200 hectares of land. Quite a lot, but still a far cry from about 29 million kilograms of Malaysian yearly tea demand.
Afternoon Tea at The BOH Tea Plantation
There is no secret we are huge afternoon or high tea lovers. It is a lovely tradition and what can be better than having tea in the weather like here in Cameron Highlands. So, do they serve afternoon tea here at Boh Tea plantation? Sadly, no! One can buy some desserts and make his own afternoon tea, but don’t expect sets. However, if you are wondering where one can find the best afternoon tea in Cameron highlands, check our article.
Indeed it is spectacular to see the tea plantation surrounded by jungle. At least it appears to be surrounded by the wilderness; the question is for how long. Growing demand for all kinds of produce from Cameron Highlands leads to only one thing – more farms. What is even sadder is the heavy use of pesticides in the area and terrible water management. We sincerely hope that the BOH tea will focus on a sustainable future from start to finish. Luckily, they have shown effort in the packaging department, which is a start.