top of page

This is Devagiri

Farm to table tea from a family estate driven by a social mission

The story

1947- My Grandfather

The first tea was planted at Devagiri during the last 20 years of British rule in Sri Lanka. In 1947, the year before independence, Rosh's grandfather, Francis Nanayakkara (a native Sri Lankan) bought the estate, established a tea factory and dedicated his life to making the finest teas in the south of Sri Lanka.

1975- The ten brothers and sisters

By the time he died in 1975, Devagiri had built a reputation as one of Sri Lanka's best estates. The British had been gone from Sri Lanka for 27 years and the country was trying to find its feet as a self-governing nation. His children (Rosh's mum and her 9 siblings) took over in a volatile political and economic environment but, despite the many challenges, they continued to produce excellent teas.

2020- Business struggling = community at risk

By 2020, the siblings were still making fine teas and the estate community was in its 4th generation. But the volatile environment combined with the inequitable supply chain had become too much to bear. They were devastated by the idea of selling their father's beloved Devagiri, but they could see no alternative and began looking for a buyer. Unsurprisingly, few wanted to get into the tea business- it was considered just too difficult. The only offers made were from buyers who might use the land for other purposes; and the impact of this would have been devastating for the community of almost 100 who live and work on the estate. If this happened, they would have lost their homes. 

2022- Mike and Rosh

In 2022 Mike and Rosh were on holiday in Sri Lanka and happened to visit Devagiri. They were struck by the injustice that a community who had farmed the land for four generations could be displaced almost overnight. They also saw potential to turn things around and develop a business model less vulnerable to market volatility, and less at the mercy of the traditional supply chain. So, they raised investment and left their London careers to run Devagiri. 

2023- Farm to Table

Mike and Rosh were immediately disappointed by the length of the supply chain and what this means: so little goes back to the people who produce tea; it is environmentally unsound; it is impossible for a consumer to trace the provenance of their tea and the ethics of the estate it comes from. 

So they began speaking with hospitality brands that want to know that the food and drink they serve comes from both a good terroir and an ethical operation, with minimum carbon footprint. 

It's early days but, already, we are proud to call some great UK hotel and restaurant brands our customers. The task ahead is significant but we firmly believe that farm to table tea is the right thing for our community, our customers and the planet. 

ATQ00014 (1)_edited.jpg
IMG-3227 (1).jpg

People & Planet

This is what drives us. 

Our purpose is to build a business model that ensures the economic well-being of our community, and which unlocks social mobility for the next generation. In doing this we are committed to treading lightly to protect our planet. We strive to be a regenerative business that adds value to both our society and the environment.

Devagiri's workforce is made up of c150 people. Across fields and factory, their work is highly skilled; representing the expertise of generations of families who have been working together since 1947. 

Of these, c50 people live onsite, with their children and other dependents. In total we have 32 children and 8 dependent adults, who are elderly or full-time parents. It is a vibrant and close knit community who have a deep affinity with the land.

Their well-being is paramount to us. To date, we have re-invested all profits into improving the estate and conditions of our workers. We will continue to do so for as long as necessary.

We are dedicated to a step-change for the next generation of our community.
We have made long-term commitments in child development, education, and access to economic opportunity for school leavers. And in forging the way with a new "farm to table" model for tea, we are determined to see these people receive their fair share of the value chain. 

This community has suffered inequity since 1826. At Devagiri, we want this to end with the next generation and have made it our purpose to achieve this. 

Of the 65 acres of the Devagiri Estate, over the past twenty years, 5 have been rewilded and are now an extension to the Kottawa rainforest that borders us.

We are committed  to a short "farm-to-table" supply chain; drastically shrinking the carbonfootprint of a Devagiri cup of tea and limiting the significant consumption ofresources associated with the standard supply chain.

We have moved beyond a monoculture system of agriculture. Soil health is a priority in our agricultural approach; reducing the impact to the earth and local ecosystems, protecting biodiversity and increasing carbon sequestration.

We are committed to renewable energy and have our own solar plant.

Our terroir & teas

Devagiri is in the Southern province of Sri Lanka, in a village called Yakkalamulla. Uniquely, it borders the Kottawa rainforest; making it's soil rich in natural nutrients. It is in a valley, so fresh water streams flow through our fields, providing natural mineral-infused hydration.
Being adjacent to the rainforest also means our air is rich in oxygen and this combines with the warm breeze from the Indian ocean, just 9 miles away. It is this rare combination of natural elements that makes Devagiri's terroir so precious.

In addition to what's grown at Devagiri, we also buy green leaf from neighbouring small holders and we are proud to pay them 20% more than the market price. 

Tea leaves are plucked each day and delivered to the factory from 5pm in jute sacks. These are hooked onto a conveyor belt, and there begins the 18 hour process of making a batch of black tea. It is a combination of 19th century tradition and 21st century innovation.

e apply the "orthodox" methodologies to withering, twisting, drying and fermentation, that were developed in the 1800's, and we marry these with the the expertise of generations of families who have been working together at Devagiri since 1947. Then, the end of the crafting process, we apply the latest optical sorting technology, in which computer vision identifies and separates our 15 or so grades of tea with unparalleled accuracy. 

The result? Deliciously pure 
single batch teas. For economic reasons, large manufacturers tend to blend batches of different grades from all over the world; diluting provenance and ethical tracablity. We are passionate about offering an alternative.


Mike and Rosh took over Devagiri to ensure that the resident community was not displaced and they believe there is no greater injustice than homelessness in the 21st century.

Rosh has been a Volunteer Grants Panel Advisor with Crisis since 2013 and, having lived in London for many years, she and Mike have long been concerned about the growing challenge of homelessness there. So, when they took over Devagiri, they were were delighted to be able to provide 50,000 cups of tea to Crisis at Christmas.

They are committed to building a business that adds value to society and they believe in long-term sustainable solutions. So they have developed a co-branded box of teabags, from which 10% of revenue will go to Crisis. 

Contact Us

Sri Lanka

Devagiri Estate


Southern Province


The Basement

13 Nottingham Place

London W1U 5LE


Subscribe to our newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page