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Spice Gardens in Sri Lanka, Scam?

Sri Lankan Spices

If you are a traveler in Sri Lanka, you may hear about the close link between Sri Lanka Spices and their unique food culture. Sri Lankans include spices in most of their food. 

This recent video is the best example to give you a hint of what Sri Lankan Spices can do. This is from the Masterchef. Click here to watch it.  

Would you believe if I say that Sri Lanka was a renowned place of best spices in the world even in 1500 BC?

cinnamon in egypt

Pharaos in Egypt used Sri Lankan Cinnamon

Well, I kid you not, archeologists say that Pharaos (Nile Civilization - Egypt) used Sri Lankan Cinnamon in 1500 BC. This was the time when Pharaohs were ruling Egypt. Further findings say that they used Sri Lankan cinnamon for mummification. Even at that time, Sri Lanka was exporting spices to the world.

And even now, Sri Lanka supplies over 90% of the world’s Cinnamon demand. Would you believe it? Sri Lanka has the best Cinnamon in the world. It’s an endemic plant in Sri Lanka.

Similarly, there are many other spices such as pepper, cardamom, cloves, etc. Sri Lankan farmers grow spices for local and international consumption. Therefore, food-loving tourists all over the world come to Sri Lanka to taste the kick of Sri Lankan spices. Everybody wants to feel the authentic Sri Lankan food at least once when they visit Sri Lanka.


Spice Garden Sri Lanka

To explore the secrets behind Sri Lankan spices and food, there are a large number of gardens made for tourists. You can find spices all over these gardens. Different types, tastes, fragrance and color. The main focus of such garden keepers is to promote Sri Lankan spices to tourists and sell their value-added products.

With the development of tourism in Sri Lanka, the number of spice gardens in the country grew in leaps and bounds. Now there are around 40 spice gardens all over the country. 

Although the number of spice gardens grew, it seems that they have declined in terms of customer satisfaction.

Tourists Complain

Most of the tourists are complaining that there is no value for the money they spent on buying different types of products made out of spices from the spice gardens in Sri Lanka. Some of them complain that they were scammed in the spice gardens. 

sri lanka spice garden thumbs down

It is unfortunate!

Therefore, I thought of giving you some essential tips and hints to keep you safe when you visit these places. If you want to know about spice gardens, what they do, how do they scam, how to be on the safe side without getting caught, please keep reading till the end…

More About Sri Lankan Spices

I already told you that the Sri Lankan market is very popular for spices. Sri Lanka is the home to more than 15 different types of spices, and they are currently traded in the international market.

You can find “true cinnamon” only in Sri Lanka. It is also called “Ceylon Cinnamon”. Ceylon is the previous name of Sri Lanka.

There is a product called “Cassia,” which is grown in countries like Java. It is somewhat like cinnamon but not true cinnamon.

Spices are useful in many different ways. Spices are mainly used in food to enhance the color, fragrance, and add an extra kick to the flavor of the food. But they have to use in right combinations (right mix). Using the right mix, any simple food can be converted into a really delicious one.

However, if the right mix of spices is not used, it can make the food taste terrible. Therefore, one should be very vigilant in using spices to enhance the taste in food.

Authentic Sri Lankan Medicines Include Spices

In addition to enhancing the taste and aroma, Sri Lankan use spices to produce many other essential oils. As you might know, Sri Lanka is a country popular for Ayurvedic medicines. They make use of spices to make essential oils for authentic ayurvedic medicines as well. 

For instance, cinnamon oil is used to prepare

  • Cinnamon ice cream
  • Food preservation agents 
  • Scents
  • Cinnamon tea, etc.

Likewise, there are other products made out of different spices. All these spices found in Sri Lanka have their own health benefits.

I will post below some of the health benefits of spices in Sri Lanka for your knowledge.

Some Historical facts about Sri Lankan Spices

spices on wooden spoon

Sri Lanka Spices - History

Sri Lanka had the name Tabrobane, Serendib, and Ceylon in ancient times by other countries. In very ancient times (1500BC) Sri Lanka maintained trade relationships with Greeks, Nile civilizations, Romans and Arabs Sri Lanka was the country of spices and ivory in ancient times. Carbon dating tests from different archeological sources confirm it. Spices and ivory were two significant reasons why Portuguese, Dutch, and British conquered Sri Lanka. Tropical Sri Lankan climate and its microclimates specific to different regions in Sri Lanka make it ideal for spice growth. Most of the spices are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Why are Sri Lankan spices so popular all over the world?

Sri Lankan spices are famous for two reasons.

One reason is the taste that it adds to food, making them unique and delicious. The second thing is the exceptional medicinal value the spices have, which is rarely found in most of the food items nowadays.

Here are some commonly used spices along with the health benefits from them

  • Curry Leaves is mandatory for Sri Lankan food. 

  • Although the taste of curry leaves is not very significant, its subtle flavor and the smell doesn’t go undetected. Sri Lankans use curry leaves in most of the curries in Sri Lankan cuisine.
  • Curry leaves helps to fight diabetes, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, prevents grey hair and it prevents anaemia.
  • Turmeric is a yellow color powder. 

  • Turmeric has a significant medicinal value over taste.
  • Turmeric is a valuable ingredient in most of the Sri Lankan Food.
  • Turmeric reduces pain. It contains a lot of anti-inflammatory properties and it cures inflammation and stiffness due to arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
  • Also used as a cleansing agent for the digestive system. It also relieves pain and improves the liver function as well.
  • Cloves are flowers of the evergreen clove tree.

  • It gives the aromatic taste to ginger bread and pumpkin pies. Once crushed, it gives a very strong odor and minty sweet taste.
  • Cloves also contain anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cloves contain anti-oxidants helping to age less.
  • This is a good medicine that can be used to prevent cancer occurring. It kills off unwanted bacteria, improves liver health and helps to regulate the blood sugar preventing diabetes.
  • Further it cures stomach ulcers and promotes bone health.

You know a little bit about cinnamon now already.

  • I shared with you information about our ancestors using cinnamon for different purposes.
  • In addition to that, cinnamon is a reason even for the world’s most significant voyages, like Christopher Colombus, Vasco de Gama, and Ibn Batuta.
  • Cinnamon is a plant having a unique identity due to its quality, color, aroma, and flavor.
  • Cinnamon is the most valuable spice in Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is also a food preservation agent along with pepper.
  • The very unique aroma and flavor help to make very distinctive Sri Lankan food and beverages. Now there are quite a lot of value-added products like cinnamon oil, cinnamon powder, and tablets, etc.

Health Benefits

  • There are a large number of health benefits of cinnamon. For starters, cinnamon contains a lot of antioxidants, and it has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cinnamon also 
    • reduces the risk of heart disease 
    • improves the sensitivity to the hormone called insulin 
    • lowers blood sugar level 
    • positively affect on neurodegenerative diseases 
    • protects against cancer 
    • helps fight bacterial 
    • fungal infections 

and also, it has the power to fight even against deadly diseases such as the HIV virus.

  • Pepper is  the “king” of spices.

  • As you all know, pepper is very popular all over the world. Sometimes, you might taste it today in your next meal.
  • It is very popular due to its signature flavor.
  • But people don’t know about the health benefits of using pepper in their day to day meal.
  • I am going to show you some benefits that you get even though you add pepper merely as an agent that makes the food taste better.
  • Like the other spices, pepper also has a lot of anti-oxidants in it and at the same time it also contains anti-inflammatory properties which is very beneficial.
  • It also helps make the brain function better. It lowers the blood sugar levels and also fights against cancer cells in a body.

Other Spices

Likewise, Sri Lanka produces many other spices;

  • Cardamom (enasal)
  • Lemongrass (sera)
  • Nutmeg and Mace (Sadikka and wasawasi)
  • Vanilla
  • Ginger (Inguru)

Therefore, if you had any doubts about it, you can clear your doubts right now. Spices are a significant part of Sri Lankan food culture, and Sri Lankan spices have their unmatched medicinal value. 

Therefore, it is true what people say about spices in Sri Lanka. It is a significant part of Sri Lankan culture.

Then why do people complain about “Spice Gardens” in Sri Lanka? Is it a scam?

There are around 40 spice gardens which are registered and licensed with the Ceylon Tourist Board. These are located in different places of the island. Here is a list of some of the spice gardens in Sri Lanka.

  • Susantha Spice Garden, Hingula.
  • Sirilak Spice Garden, Matale
  • Lucky land Spice Garden, Matale.
  • Diamond, Matale.
  • Luckgrove Spice Garden, Matale.
  • Villa Herbarium, Hingula.
  • Cinnamon Tree Spice Garden, Mawanella.
  • Nilwala Spice Garden, Randeniya.
  • Country Side Spice Garden, Nalanda.
  • All Spice Garden, Rambukkana.

SACM OR NOT? Yes! It is a SCAM!

But not in all the Spice gardens in the country. Only in a selected few. I’ll show you how tourists get scammed in few of those places.

Tourists complain about the spice gardens in Sri Lanka not just for one or two reasons. There are series of offenses these people do when tourists visit those places but they are not acted upon by the regulatory bodies which makes it worse.

I will give you where and when the tourists get scammed clearly.

But I think you shouldn’t miss visiting the spice garden since it is a university for spice lovers all over the world.

Only thing is you need to know how to get rid of the scams. I will show you 5 such scams and how to get rid of such scams one by one.

Do not do Card Payments

Making payments using cards is one of the risks that the tourists take when they travel to spice gardens in Sri Lanka. There were few reported incidents where tourists have bought a goods worth of a few euros and they have charged a large amount of money (a few hundreds of euros) instead of the correct price of the goods. There has not been any reversal of the charge as well. At these times, the tourists become helpless.

Therefore, it is best to avoid any card payments. Do not give your credit or debit card information to anyone in the spice gardens in Sri Lanka.

Check Reviews

Another complaint that most of the tourists make is that they are taken to these places called spice gardens without any prior notice. The trip managers suddenly ask from the people who are touring with them whether they want to go to spice gardens. They give a fascinating introduction about these spice gardens and somehow get the tourists’ approval to visit this place.

Get to know about the plan.

To avoid this, you should get to know about the trip plan. Sometimes you might now be that much of spice lover. In that case, if you are not willing to go to spice gardens in Sri Lanka, be straight forward and tell them that you do not want to.

If you want to go to spice gardens, get to know the place that you are going to visit and check the reviews from the “trip advisor.” Check the comments and reviews of different people who have visited the place before you.

Do not Ask for Massages

After visiting the spice gardens in Sri Lanka, they will take you through a tour around the garden explaining about the spices. Actually, that is very useful if you are interested about the spices that are grown in Sri Lanka. But at the end of the tour, they will introduce you some of their products and ointments. That is when the tour converts into a sales pitch. To test some of the ointments then and there, they will ask you whether you need a massage. And if you say yes, they will first massage your shoulders and the head. Then they will tell you to lay down on the bench and start massaging your whole body in front of all the others. They will even try to massage your private areas without asking you. It becomes a show to rest of the people who are starring at you. Therefore, no massaging at the spice gardens. If you need a good massage, you can find it in any star Hotel that you might stay in.

Avoid High Cost Ointments

After the garden tour, in their sales pitch about the products that are made using spices, they will try to sell you some of their products which costs an arm or a leg. Avoid such high cost products. If you want to buy, one tactic you can follow is that you can check the prices online. Maybe in amazon or eBay and see the prices at which it being sold in the international market. Then bargain as much as you can try to reduce the price to the least amount, they are willing to give you.

Do not Fall for Sob Stories

Some of the tourists have complained that after the tour in the spice garden, some people working there come with sob stories about their family and children and ask for money from the tourists. This is another scam you should get rid of. If you think you want to give, please do but its all your decision.

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  1. I really appreciate your clearly written article on Sri Lankan spices and spice gardens. A topic that I haven’t read much about. I enjoyed reading your article. Keep it up!

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