One of the best things to have on your bucket list is a trip with your closest friends. Though Mauritius isn’t very big, the Tea Route was the perfect journey for us, on this little island. We had a car for just the 3 of us and a really friendly driver who kept us entertained throughout the trip. We were like tourists in our own island!
The tea route is a trip that will take you back in time to the first days of Mauritius with its rich colonial history where you will get an insight of the importance of tea production in Mauritius. As part of a package, we had the privilege to visit Le Domaine des Aubineaux, the tea plantations of Bois Chéri and the St Aubin Residence.
Le Domaine des Aubineaux
This was the very first stop of our journey, a vintage colonial house, Le Domaine des Aubineaux, where we fell in love with the place. As we entered this gorgeous colonial house, it was like stepping back in time.
The Domaine is also known as Maison Gimbeau, named after the owners of the house. It was built in 1872, and though it has been renovated, the owners have kept the house as it was, with the furniture, decorations and personal items. The colonial vintage house has a total of 27 rooms with antique yet amazingly classy décor. Everything found in each room was left intact. The property showcases different pieces of furniture in the finest wood: teak, rose wood, ebony or cinnamon.
The balcony has a mesmerizing view of the garden and we almost felt like we were in Greece with the turquoise blue scheme. The architecture is really stunning and we enjoyed this Mediterranean feeling so we decided to go crazy and took loads of pictures and poses.
Museum and Factory of Bois Chéri
After the visit at Le Domaine des Aubineaux, the next stop was Bois Cheri, the tea factory.
As we entered the area, we could smell the tea aromas all over the place. We started off with a visit around a small museum, which gave us loads of information about the history of tea, including a short movie. On about 14 small posters, we learnt the story from 1768, when tea arrived from China. We discovered the process of making tea- from how tea is planted and harvested, to the actual production of the tea. There is also an old train in the museum, which was used to transport tea on the island, back during the colonial period.
A guide made us visit all around the tea factory with detailed explanations on each machine used for the tea process. Depending on the tea season, if there has been a good yield, you can see the tea-making processes across the different types of machines. They demonstrate the process from raw leaves until the tea is sealed in boxes. It is worth knowing that at Bois Cheri they add flavors to the tea, the most popular one in Mauritius is probably the vanilla tea, but they also have exotic fruit flavours, cardamom, coconut and many others.
Tea tasting at Bois Cheri
After the factory visit, a tea tasting session is next, where there is an amazing nature view among the tea field. The first thing we noticed was the distinctive and remarkable tea field, where we took almost a thousand photos. The weather was in our favor with a soft cool breeze and streams of sunrays. We then headed up to the restaurant, which provided us with different flavors of tea, the same ones we had viewed in the factory. We sat on the restaurant’s balcony and enjoyed our tea with the peaceful atmosphere and a wonderful view of the tea fields and the lake. While you stroll the estate, you may even have the chance to encounter tame and friendly deer. We were lucky enough to pet and feed them, and also take some great photos.
The Saint Aubin Residence
Our next stop was the Saint Aubin Residence, another antique and vintage architectural building. Before we visited the residence, we went to the Saint Aubin shop, where we found tea products, rum, souvenirs and so on.
After we visited the shop, we were starving and headed into the building for lunch. The Saint Aubin Residence was built in 1819 close to a mill, and was originally the home of the owners of the sugar plantation. It is acknowledged today as part of the National architectural heritage.
Its living room, now hosts a restaurant serving local and authentic dishes. The restaurant offers typical Mauritian food where many tourists, and locals alike can appreciate the cuisine. The signature dish of the restaurant is their famous vanilla chicken, which uses their own cultivated vanilla.
The estate grows their own vanilla in a restricted area, since the plant itself is very fragile. We were allowed to visit the other fields as well which made for a nice stroll.
After the delicious lunch, we were offered a rum tasting session, which includes typical local rums.
The estate has a large variety of rums, from different flavoured rums, like coffee, vanilla or coconut to aged rums where their flavours evolve with time, as the estate gets older.
The bartender poured the rum in a shot glass, and told us to drink it in one go. In comparison, the flavoured rums are sweeter with a higher sugar content and have a lower alcohol content than the aged rums. I found that all the rums were rather strong and slightly bitter except for the Strawberry Rum, which I really enjoyed since it had a sweet taste.
On our way out of the rum estate, we came across a cotton tree, which was a first for us, since the plant is quite rare in Mauritius.
It was a long drive from the north of the island to the south, but the trip was worth the time and journey. We enjoyed each and every destination we visited. This trip was not only fun but we also discovered a unique part of Mauritian history and culture.
If you are looking for a memorable road trip with your family, friends or loved ones, the Mauritian Tea Route is one of the best you will have.
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