of Mlesna - new jewellery business
Mlesna is a reputed enterprise that
needs no promotion in Sri Lanka; it is synonymous with
the best blends of tea but there is another facet to
Anselm Perera’s business empire that is lesser
known to the public – the jewellery business-
the Fortress Fine Jewellery Creations located at the
Tea Fortress. This new establishment is now a landmark
on the Colombo - Kandy road, a little before Peradeniya,
only 30 minutes away from Kandy town. Located by the
side of the road in the village of Kiribathkumbura,
the Tea Fortress is an apt connotation for this impressive
building that cannot be missed by anyone travelling
to and from Kandy.
|Working on some jewellery
Upul Jayasuriya, Director in charge
of this branch of the business, took The Kandy Times
on a tour, that any visitor / prospective customer would
be taken on. We first visited the gem museum which had
corundums (uncut stones) of precious and semi-precious
gems found in Sri Lanka, artistically displayed.
A model of a gem mine depicts clearly
the process of gem mining.
Next, a ten minute documentary film
was shown on gem mining, cutting and polishing which
was interesting and informatory. We then moved to the
workshop where there are two craftsmen continuously
working; they have available to them every piece of
modern equipment that is necessary for their craft.
This is where they turn out all the
jewellery displayed in the creatively planned gallery.
Renowned designer Sujith Naotunne’s
exclusive pieces of jewellery are found here for sale.
In one section of the gallery there is jewellery made
in 18 carat yellow gold and white gold.
The other section has jewellery made
in silver. Precious and semi-precious gems are used
to make the jewellery. Jayasuriya explained that a customer
can choose a design from the displays, from their catalogues
which have the latest, trendy designs or design their
own piece of jewellery; they can choose from the array
of loose gem stones on display.
Any piece of jewellery unless it is
very intricate can be custom-made within 24 hours. “That
is the advantage the Fortress has to offer, a customer
enroute to Kandy can order a piece of jewellery and
collect it on their way back to Colombo. In addition
the best quality of stones and metal is guaranteed”.
This whole experience had the professionalism similar
to one encountered on a tour of a diamond factory in
The Fortress restaurant
On the upper level is the Fortress
Restaurant. Chef, Seneviratne Banda who has many years
of experience in the UK, Middle East and local hotels,
such as the Pegasus Reef, Galadari, Elephant Corridor
and Saman Villas has a state of the art kitchen, He
said, “I have all the equipment I need to produce
a gourmet meal”.
“It is an ideal place for special
functions. The area on a level above the restaurant
which opens out on to a lawn has much potential for
exclusive cocktail parties, or special events.
With our excellent Chef any function
at the Fortress can be nothing but a success,”
commented A. Jeganathan, Director in charge of the restaurant.
He further stated, “I am pleased
and proud of the fact that some of the fresh vegetable
requirements of the kitchen are met by us.” The
Fortress cultivates its own vegetables in the premises.
“Tea Shake” at
the Tea Fortress
Chrysanthi Jayasuriya, Directress
of the Mlesna Tea Centre, confirmed that the Tea Centre
at the Fortress was the biggest one of the 17 Mlesna
Tea Centres. They displayed the biggest stocks and all
the varieties of Mlesna tea products and gift items.
The Kandy Times was treated to a new
drink that has been introduced at the Fortress –
the “Tea Shake” a deliciously refreshing
long drink of flavoured tea served over crushed ice
with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. This is a “must’
for any thirsty traveller passing by.
The Tea Fortress is obviously a pet-
project of its Managing Director Anselm Perera who has
been involved actively from the stage of designing the
building, which is awesome from outside as well as inside.
“The creation of the Tea Fortress is a dream come
true,” he noted. When the Kandy Times met with
Perera he was eager to show us his gallery of exquisite
jewellery which he was evidently proud of.
Soilon tea bags
Perera spoke of a new product that
has emerged in the market over the last month –
tea bags made of corn starch fibre, the material is
called Soilon and is completely biodegradable.
The pyramid shaped tea bag holds leaf
tea unlike fannings found in the usual tea bags. He
explained that the normal rectangular, paper tea bag
tears if whole tea leaves are packed in it but with
this new product one can enjoy the flavour of a well
brewed cup of tea as you would, when you brew loose
tea in a pot without the mess of cleaning up a teapot.
He explained, “There are environmental and ecological
enthusiasts especially in European countries who do
not want any nylon in their tea cups and who are willing
to pay more for the biodegradable bags.”
One thousand plants of tea bushes
have been planted on a slope above the building, reminiscent
of a mini tea plantation and Perera spoke of the tea
museum he plans to have in the premises. “This
is an aspect that will be of special interest to foreign
visitors,” he said. He has in his collection several
pieces of vintage items for exhibition and wants to
increase his collection before he opens the museum which
would be “Naturally the Best” as the Mlesna
Perera said his focus was on creating
an ambience such as one finds in the Fortress, and this
can be only understood on entering the Tea Fortress.
The natural rock around which the fortress was built,
the water flowing down from the roof level trickling
down the rock to the lobby, is all part of this special
ambience. Despite people and activity around, there
is a sense of serenity in the place, captured by the
The Tea Fortress is not a mere stop
to shop or a quick cuppa. It is an experience - select
a cup of tea from a range of unimaginable varieties
and flavours, pick a gift or a souvenir for yourself
from a wide array of quaint but useful items, purchase
or order a piece of exclusive jewellery, have a snack
or meal prepared to perfection, it is an experience
that is personalized and one that should not be missed.
The Tea Fortress has been designed
with exceptional business acumen and foresight.