crop comes full circle

Green tea farmers to sell brew on Border

A PAIR of green tea farmers have come full circle with their crop yesterday delivering the first batch of their home-grown brew to local retailers.

While the bulk of Tawonga’s Erin and Davide Angelini harvest will still be exported to Japan, the pair have bought back 120kg of leaf this year to package and sell as the Alpine Tea Co. blend.

They are the tea grower on the North East to package their own blend.

Their untested belief is that it will provide them with a niche market to increase their farm income.

“This is very much a trial, we are basically testing the tea waters,” Mr Angelini said.

“We believe there is a demand out there, people have watched farmers grow the tea and send it off overseas.

“Now we are saying here it is, try it.”

The Angelini family returned to the Kiewa Valley in 2002 looking for a farming opportunity and have been growing green tea for Japanese manufacturer Ito En ever since.

Mr Angelini’s family had been tobacco growers at Tawonga.

They have 4.7ha under crop, cutting the leaf three times during summer. In a good year the farm can produce about 18 tonnes to the hectare the dried volume reducing to about 20per cent of that tonnage.

Mrs Angelini, a dietician when not farming, said the biggest challenge was marketing.

“The theory at the moment is that if we like a cafe or food outlet we approach the owner and tell them what we are doing,” she said.

“So far the response has been really positive.

“Our ‘Pure Green’ tea is fresh and has been subjected to limited processing.

“This means it looks different, you can actually see the leaves, and it has a distinctive taste.”

In time the couple hope to grow herbs that will be blended with tea.