”It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it.
One must work at it.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Australian Tea History
There is no denying the British influence over the popularity and importance of tea drinking in Australia. And the legacy of the first tea retail shop opened by Alfred Bushell in 1883 in Queensland as well as the popularity of his brand is undisputed. But there is disagrement about who planted the first commercial tea garden.
Legend of the first commercial tea plants in northern Queensland were long accepted. The popular and often-told story was that in 1882, the Cutten brothers rowed down the Tully River and planted both tea and coffee in an area near Bingil Bay. It is said that extreme weather conditions devastated their enterprise and that it was abandoned. About fifty years later, Allan Maruff, an Indian-born doctor searched the area and discovered some surviving plants, converting the wilderness discovery into a commercial operation.
There is now historical evidence of a commercial tea operation outside Melbourne as early as 1901 that would have significantly preceded Dr. Maruff’s garden.
Dry Ideas Tea Garden
(From the Dry Ideas Tea Company Website)
Dry Ideas is Australias oldest commercial grower and processor of Japanese green tea having imported the plants from Japan in 1990. Our property, in the Huon region in southern Tasmania enjoys the cool temperate climate ideal for producing supreme quality leaves. The young shoots are plucked when they are tender, succulent and packed with wonderful flavour. In order to maintain the flavour the leaf is processed within a few hours of picking and then gently dried in the special system developed by Dry Ideas. Dry ideas produces both black and green tea.
When brewed correctly our green tea has a fresh clean taste and is of low astringency with no bitter notes. Over-heating the water and over-brewing can result in bitterness which can be very off putting. Our jars provide instructions to help you brew the perfect cup.
Green tea is a delicious and healthy drink to enjoy any time. In summer I keep a jug of refreshing iced green tea in the fridge.
Our black tea is harvested in a similar manner to the green tea, however after harvest it is left a few days then it is crushed and allowed to oxidise (ferment) prior to drying in specially constructed driers. Our black tea has a rich flavour with aroma and flavour reminiscent of roasted nuts. As there is little astringency this is a lovely tea to drink black as milk is not needed to bind to tannins.
No pesticides are used in the production of our tea and we are certified pesticide free. Our irrigation is pumped by solar energy and are driers are solar powered to reduce our carbon footprint.
The Dry Ideas Facility
Tea Gardens Dry Ideas is located on 4 Ha of quality horticultural land with permanent water. The tea gardens occupy about half a hectare and are located on relatively flat land. The tea forms part of an extensive ornamental garden. The tea is planted in rows 2m apart and the plants are at a 0.5m spacing within the row. Irrigation is predominantly automatically applied by permanent overhead sprinklers which run for 6 hours every second day. The water is pumped from 2 wells and a bore using solar powered pumps. There are only minor insect pests which are controlled by small birds, frogs and ladybirds. No problem diseases occur and this allows for pesticide free tea production. Weeds are the main problem which are dominantly controlled by wallabies, feral rabbits, mowing and hand weeding. Under young plants occasionally herbicides are used although these do not touch the foliage and independent laboratory analysis confirms the tea is totally pesticide free. Foliar nutrient levels are measured annually to determine appropriate fertilizer application.
Tea Harvester The cost of labour in Australia is high such that hand plucking of tea is not a viable option. Dry Ideas has built its own innovative mechanical harvester which is suspended from the front of a modified ride on lawn mower. This cuts the leaf at the desired height and blows the leaf into a specially built catcher. When enough tea is harvested it is transported to the processing facility where green tea is processed immediately or stored in a cold room while black tea is laid out to start the withering process of black tea production.
Tea Processing Facilities Dry ideas has a small dedicated processing facility on site. This small air conditioned building contains a large leaf blancher for green tea, a modified meat mincer to crush and roll the leaves and specially constructed air tight refrigeration driers which dry with less energy than conventional heat based driers and they do not lose the tea aromatics during the drying process. The whole process is computer controlled. After drying the tea passes through a rotary seive to remove stalk material and to break up the leaf to a consistent size. A small amount of matcha is generated and retained in the tea with this process allowing for increased tea flavour extraction when brewing the tea.
Jane and Gordon Brown
Dr Gordon Brown, MSc(Agr), PhD, DipEd(Tech).
Dr Brown is a director and the principal research scientist of the company. He has a Masters degree in Agriculture from the University of Sydney, a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Western Sydney and a graduate diploma in education from the Institute of Technical and Adult Teacher Education. Dr Brown has over 30 years of experience in Horticultural research and education. Prior to Scientific Horticulture Pty Ltd he has held full time positions with Universities (in both Sydney and Tasmania), a chemical company (Roche Maag) and Government Departments (TAFE in Tasmania and NSW and Tasmanian Agriculture). His research activities have included air pollution effects on fruit crops, nutrition of horticultural crops, pesticides for horticultural crops, products to improve fruit quality, many postharvest activities, replanting disorders, market access, processing options and improving nursery tree quality. Although Dr Brownâ€™s speciality area is in postharvest horticulture he has a broad understanding of tree fruit production and commonly advises and is involved in production related issues and research including insurance claims and legal proceedings. Dr Brown is a member of the International Society for Horticultural Science and the Australian Society of Horticultural Science. He has a wide, international network of peers. Dr Brown is also one of the owners of Dry Ideas, which is concerned with the production of tea in the worlds most southern tea fields. Dr Brown is on the board of directors of Oak Tasmania, a dissabilities services organisation which operate Australias largest pome and stone fruit nursery.
Mrs Jane Brown, MSc(Ed)
Jane is one of the owners of Dry ideas and a director of Scientific Horticulture where she provides valuable advice and assistance on food related issues related to fruit production and processing. Mrs Brown has a Bachelor of Education degree specialising in food and nutrition and holds a Masters degree in Science Education through Curtin University. She has over 30 years of experience in food research, education and training which includes food assessment, product and recipe development, consumer acceptance trials, development of new food processes and food training. Mrs Brown is formally trained in developing and implementing food safety procedures (HACCP). She has held positions and contracts with overseas companies, Australian companies including Woolworths, food and nutrition organisations such as the National Heart Foundation, at the University of Tasmania in their Menzies Centre for Population Health Research and Government Departments.
Jane & Gordon Brown of Dry Ideas Tea Farm
Australian Billy Tea
Made famous around the world for the popular Australian folk song, Waltzing Matilda, the preparation for a wilderness version of preparing tea is known as Billy Tea. It is essentially a pot of water boiled over a camp fire with a leaf from the gum tree added to a generous amount of black tea. The tea is brought to a boil over the campfire for a hearty brew.
Australian Tea Videos
Tea Gardens & Making Billy Tea