The Age Epicure Article

Guess who’s buying our green tea?

It would appear that our home grown tea industry has come of age.

“From little things big things grow,” says Dave Angelini. He and his wife Erin have nearly five hectares of tea at Dave’s parents’ old tobacco farm at Tawonga. He is a trained mechanical engineer and their plantation is dotted with Dave’s handmade irrigation system, anti-frost devices and automated climate stations.

At night, he and Erin hand-pack tea for the local market from their kitchen table. They harvest enough fresh tea from their property for Ito En to make 15 to 18 tonnes of processed tea a year, and they aim to buyback about two tonnes a year within 18 months. Presently, they package and sell about 50 kilograms a month around Australia under the Alpine Tea Company label.

“We only grow yab,” he says, referring to the yabukita, the main variety of tea grown in the Shizuoka region ofJapan and bred in the mid-20th century. They sell 200, 100 and I5 gram, resealable packs. What differentiates their green tea is the freshness, quality and lack of dust in the packet.

“Packing tea by hand,” Erin says, “stops the leaves breaking down. It’s a gentle process.”

Distribution is tiny at present, with just a handful of shops in northeast Victoria stocking Alpine Tea Company’s product.

The Angelinis have teamed up with ice-cream makers the Crooks from nearby Gundowring. They are using the Angelinis’ matcha – very finely powdered green tea leaves- and blending it with their creme anglaise base to create a celadon-coloured ice-cream, which is delicious by itself, or with sliced honeydew melon or cantaloupe.

The Age Epicure