Choosing an Aussie brew with Nerada Tea
Learn all about the history and heritage of Australian tea brand Nerada Tea for the perfect home brew.
Q: Tell us about your product…
A: Our Nerada black tea is 100% pesticide free and Australian-grown on the picturesque Atherton Tablelands, in Far North Queensland (FNQ). Nerada’s 360-hectare tea plantation is the largest in Australia and is proudly Rainforest Alliance certified. Grown at altitude amongst QLD’s two highest mountain ranges, our single origin tea is a true Aussie brew. It goes from crop to cup in as little as 4 weeks (dependent on the time of year), you can taste the freshness in every cup.
Q: What is the heritage and story of your brand?
A: Nerada Tea was launched in 1971, after several years of growing and selling bulk tea in Innisfail, Queensland. An opportunity emerged to produce a branded tea to sell to Queensland and Southern Australian states and so the Nerada brand was born, named after the area alongside the local Johnstone River. Pioneering local Dr Allan Maruff cultivated the tea using some of the original cuttings from the lost plantation in Bingil Bay that was planted by the Cutten Brothers in 1884.
Through cyclones, drought, market challenges and changes of business structure, the Nerada brand has continued to survive. Nerada Tea has been responsible for trailblazing many new and innovative practices in the Australian tea industry including pesticide-free farming practices, mechanised harvesting, blending, and processing teas from both its home in the Atherton Tablelands and its packaging facilities in Brisbane.
Today, the plantation harvests 6.6 million kilos of fresh green tea leaves to the Nerada Tea processing factory, which equates to roughly 750 million cups of tea per year.
Despite these impressive production figures, Australian-grown black tea only accounts for 6 percent of the tea available on our supermarket shelves. Importantly though, Nerada Tea provides 95 percent of the Australian-grown black tea available on our supermarket shelves. It’s Australia’s freshest brew, grown pesticide free and the journey from crop to cup can take as little as four weeks.
“Australia is home to a vast array of wonderful agricultural producers, but many are still surprised to discover that Far North Queensland is an ideal climate to grow and produce outstanding tea. We’re nestled between Queensland’s highest mountain ranges, and the rich volcanic soils and 750 metre altitude give our tea a distinctive flavour profile,” says Nerada Tea Plantation Director, Tony Poyner.
“There is such a wonderful tea culture here in Australia. We feel honoured to have played a significant part of Australia’s tea history. It’s testament to the perseverance of many of the pioneers in Queensland, such as the Taylor and Russell families who were determined to grow world-class tea on Australian soil. We’ll continue to refine our craft and bring tea lovers a quality range of black tea and infusions.”
The Russell family own Nerada Tea are third generation tea producers and have a long and successful history producing tea. Arriving in FNQ they found the volcanic soils, tropical rainforest surroundings and tropical climate the ideal place to grow tea. They set about establishing a tea estate and through ingenuity, experience and determination were successful.
Nerada has added to its range over the years and now produces herbal tea infusions, as well as green tea and a variety of black tea blends. The new Director’s Cut range was launched in 2021 as an exclusive loose-leaf product to showcase some uniquely Australian blends like black tea and lemon myrtle.
Q: What has been the highlight of your brand story to date?
A: To have our tea estate recognised and certified by the Rainforest Alliance was a proud moment – we are the only Australian agricultural entity to be awarded this prestigious seal. Our quality teas have a distinctive flavour, very much reflecting the ecosystem of our surrounding environment here in Far North Qld. Having 360 hectares which are grown pesticide free very much is a major achievement that talks to the quality of our products.
Our environmental footprint is important to us, not only does our tea estate boast a unique ecosystem, it is also home to a rare and wonderful family of Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos. Visitors to our tearoom often get to enjoy their tea with views of the tea fields and these special near threatened creatures that are native to our home in the Atherton Tablelands.
With a new look pack to celebrate the 2021 50 years milestone and better reflect the Australian grown tea sourcing, there’s a bright future ahead. Export plans are well underway to expand into new markets and let others develop the uniquely Australian flavour profile.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of the journey to date or where have you found the most growth?
A: Even though Australia produced 1.41 million kilos of tea last year (that’s 750 million cups of tea!), only 1 cup in 10 is made from tea grown in our own backyard. We’d love to see more tea drinkers choose an Aussie brew like Nerada Tea. Not only is it 100% pesticide-free, unlike tea from the rest of the world, but it also supports our local farmers and safeguards jobs in rural areas. Brands like Nerada very much rely on word of mouth, not having the multi-million advertising budgets of foreign competitors. Putting the Australian grown barchart on tea is not a mandatory requirement (it’s proudly on our Nerada teas) so there’s often lots of confusion with terms like Melbourne Breakfast or Australian breakfast with no Australian grown tea included. People need to just dig a little deeper and ask where their tea is actually coming from.
It’s great to see Aussie Tea Month encourage tea lovers to try a local cup of tea. Many people are pleasantly surprised when we tell them that tea is grown in Australia! Our teas are some of the finest in the world and people are thrilled to discover that we actually grow tea here and even more surprised when they taste the quality in every cup.
Nerada Tea can be purchased from Coles and Woolworths, as well as their online store https://neradatea.com.au/pages/collections.