Bois Chéri is located in the southern part of Mauritius, just a few kilometers from Ganga Talao, the large hindu temple. It is a cooler area of the island, as it is on a plateau at 450 meters above sea level.
The Savannah district is probably one of the most scenic and unspoilt areas of the island.
Related article: Ganga Talao
Visit of the Museum and Factory of Bois Chéri
The first part of the visit is a small museum where you can find information on the history of tea in Mauritius, the production of tea itself as well as an exposition of the older machinery used for the production.
Among the machinery that is shown, you can see an old train locomotive. Before the independence of Mauritius, the British were using rails to transport goods around the island (sugar cane, for exemple) but also passengers. When Mauritius became independent in 1968, the new governement decided to get rid of those – the locomotive F4268 was bought by the owners of the tea plantations of Bois Chéri. Before its second life as boiler at the tea plantation, the locomotive was used to transport passengers between Curepipe and Port Louis. It is funny to think (or a bit ironic maybe) that the tracks they once took up are being put down again at more or less the same spot today for the new metro system.
The story of tea in Mauritius is told by small illustrations on the wall that the kids really enjoyed. Lots of information on 14 small posters that tell the story from 1768 when tea arrived from China, with explanations on how tea is planted and harvested to the actual production of the tea. At other places you can read about how sugar and milk were introduced to tea or benefits of drinking tea. There is also a small movie to watch.
I know it looks like it, but I promise you the kids are not grounded!! Kiddos 1 was reading for her brother.
After this you can join a visit of the factory. If you are lucky the tea production will be in full swing and you can see the machines at work. Unfortunately, we are a bit out of season at the moment and the harvests are smaller at this time of the year. The production starts in the morning and runs till they are finished with the daily work load. The factory is not that big, but it is interesting to see how things are done.
We did see however tea leaves just harvested coming to the factory and being led to dry (wilting) and all the different machines used. Our guide explained to us the whole process the tea leaves go through from the harvest to the packing.
They produce both black and green tea – I don’t know why I imagined otherwise, but it is the same leaves used for the black and green tea. They also add flavour, the most drank one in Mauritius is probably the vanilla tea, but they also have exotic fruits, cardamom, bergamote, coconut and many others. The only tea they sell not from Mauritius – and actually a herb not a tea – is Roiboos, the South African bush plant. They import it from SA and do their own packaging at the factory.
You get to taste all the teas that you want and can purchase a few things to eat with, like pancakes or waffles. The kids, who are not big tea drinkers, thought it was funny to make their own tea, and with enough sugar and milk, kiddos 1 even managed to finish her cup! She actually really liked the exotic fruit one. I tasted coconut, that had a very subtile taste and I enjoyed it, I am usually not to flavoured teas. It is a lovely area to sit and enjoy life. You can also drive up without needing to visit the museum and pay directly at the cafe and/or restaurant. There is a small shop where you can buy teas and other products from the Saint Aubin estates – rum from Saint Aubin Rum estate and candles from the Domaine des Aubineaux.
Related article: The Domaine des Aubineaux in Curepipe
Lunch at the restaurant of Bois Chéri
Useful information about a visit to the tea plantations of Bois Chéri
Best time to visit the Tea Factory of Bois Chéri
It is open every day from 9am to 5pm, but the last visit of the factory is at around 2:45pm. To see the factory in production the earlier you get there the better. As mentioned the harvest season is from October to March and at that time the production times are longer. We visited in April and arrived just after 11, the prodution had just stopped.
The weather changes very fast in this part of the island: we had sunshine, rain, clouds all in the time of the 2-3 hours we were there. It is humid and colder than the coast.