You’ve probably heard a lot about Sri Lankan teas, Indian teas, Japanese teas, Chinese teas… even Kenyan teas. But what you probably haven’t heard a lot about is Australian-grown tea. Many people are unaware that Australia’s tea industry has been quickly gathering momentum, with a number of people and tea companies growing tea in large amounts from Queensland to Tasmania.
History of Australian Tea
Australia has an active tea culture, originally influenced by British tea culture. As a tea producer, Australia is considered more of a specialty product supplier currently representing less than 1% of the global market.
The tea produced in Australia historically has been what we know as ‘black tea’ or fermented tea, and these days the main black tea plantations in Australia are in northern NSW and Queensland.
In comparison, the production of ‘green tea’ in Australia is a relatively new concept. Green tea (which is essentially made from the same plants as black tea via a different process) is popular throughout Asia and has been consumed for more than 5000 years..
During the 1990’s, several Japanese companies were looking at Australia as a potential site for the production of Japanese-style green tea. On the NSW Central Coast, Department of Primary Industries (DPI) was working with a Japanese company Kunitaro to conduct experimental trial farming of this interesting crop here in NSW.
Following on from these successful trials, Kunitaro established an Australian branch (Kunitaro Australia Pty Limited) and purchased 25 hectares in Mangrove Mountain, Central Coast, NSW, planted crops and built what is known as, a ‘crude’ (preliminary) processing plant from which they now harvest, process and ship high quality product back to Japan for final processing, packaging and shipping to the Japanese distribution and retail networks.
At about the same time, a group of farmers located around the Ovens Valley in Victoria were successfully growing plants on numerous farms and had formed a growers-group backed by Victoria State Government and Japanese owned company (Ito En Corp) based in Wangaratta, to produce green tea for the emerging Green Tea canned drinks market.
These two early initiatives led to numerous farming and economic studies producing several encouraging reports as to the viability of developing a new industry here in Australia for this centuries-old Asian dominated business.
Styles of Tea Produced in AustraliaThe wetter parts of Australia, especially along the North and East coasts, have a climate with ample rainfall, suitable for growing tea.
Australia produces herbs important in herbal teas. Queensland, is the main location where Lemon Myrtle is grown. Other varieties include Shincha, Green Tea, Black Tea, Hojicha, Kukicha and Green Tea with Lemon.
Best Australian Teas
The notion of the "best" Australian teas is subjective, because different people have different tastes. Below are the highest-rated teas produced in Australia, according to Tea Ratings.