The Future of Nerada Tea
Fifty years of producing Australian-grown tea is certainly cause for celebration. For Nerada, it’s been a journey full of challenges. But we have a pioneering spirit and a drive to survive against the odds to ensure we produce teas that rival some of the best in the world.
Nerada started with a single tea plantation in Innisfail, the vision of Dr Allan Maruff. It began with seedlings he had unearthed from a lost tea plantation buried in the thick rainforest at Bingil Bay on Queensland’s Cassowary Coast. Today, Nerada, based in the Atherton Tablelands, is the largest producer of black tea in Australia, producing 85%.
As Nerada celebrates our golden anniversary in 2021, we look at how innovation powered Nerada’s inception and evolution. This innovative spirit will continue to help us pioneer sustainable single-origin tea as we focus our attention on what the future holds for our brand. We’re ready to take our distinctive Aussie tea from our home in Queensland out into the world!
The Golden Age of Nerada – Australia Infused
Much like many premium coffees and chocolates, our Nerada black tea is single-origin. We grow it completely pesticide-free on our 360-hectare Rainforest Alliance-certified property in the pristine Atherton Tablelands. The crop flourishes in the rich soils and rainforest climate of northern Queensland, which gives the tea its unique terroir – we call it Australia infused.
Taking Nerada Tea from Queensland to the World
Although Nerada is a leading name in tea in Australia, we currently export less than 5% of our tea. Now, the time has come to take the taste of Australian tea beyond our shores.
“For more than 50 years, we’ve toiled the land here in Far North Queensland to ensure the quality of Australian tea,” says Nerada Chairman John Russell. “It’s a small-scale operation by global standards, but the time is right to let other markets enjoy our Australian-grown black tea. Our Queensland-grown black teas very much have a quality and flavour profile that’s right for many international markets, particularly those that consume milk with their tea. So, in our golden anniversary year, the time has come to let the world know about the pioneering ways we’ve adopted to produce tea that is distinctively Australian.”
So where is Nerada heading next? Although we currently sell Nerada in New Zealand and some Asian markets (such as Japan, where it has gained the most traction), we’ve set our sights on the United Kingdom – particularly the British market. British consumers have similar taste preferences to Australians, often favouring milk in their tea. Plus, there’s an appetite for discovery among avid tea drinkers. It’s a timely move geopolitically, too, as recent trade negotiations with the UK post-Brexit are putting Australian products back in the spotlight.
Nerada is working with Austrade to accelerate some of the export plans, seeking a major supermarket or boutique distributor to help bring the taste of Australia to the UK market. COVID-19 has thwarted some travel plans aimed at building relationships and finding the right partnerships, but we are exploring diplomatic channels to broaden the audience for Nerada’s finest brews.
Uniquely Australian blends
Although black tea is the initial focus of Nerada’s expansion into the UK, our unique tea blends with Australian native ingredients will also set Nerada apart.
“There’s an appetite for the type of black tea we’re producing,” says Russell. “We’re seeing niche interest in Australian blends and flavours such as our Rainforest Alliance-certified Australian black tea with lemon myrtle, which presents a real opportunity. Lemon myrtle is the perfect flavour combination to blend with our singe-origin estate black tea.”
Lemon myrtle is a unique Australian superfood, well-known for its fresh citrus fragrance. And like our tea, it comes from Queensland. We’ve been successfully growing some lemon myrtle plants on the Nerada tea estate in Far North Queensland. The resulting blend is proving very popular in our Nerada tea room in Malanda and at our online store. The one-of-a-kind Australian product opportunities are plentiful here, allowing Nerada to develop more classically Australian tea blends for the top end of the market and the gifts market.
Nerada is the only Australian Rainforest Alliance-certified tea and the first agricultural entity to receive this prestigious seal.
In addition to our pesticide-free practices, we encourage biodiversity on our plantation, which is home to the rare Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo. Although this already sets us apart from other tea producers around the world, we are constantly evolving our growing, harvesting and packaging practices to be more sustainable.
We’re thinking carefully about our energy efficiency, with solar panels fitted to our Malanda Tea Rooms and Brisbane factory. Ensuring that the environmental footprint of the brand remains sustainable is of utmost importance to our entire team.
National and international sustainability campaigns, such as Plastic Free July, have helped highlight our environmentally friendly practices, including reducing single-use plastics from our daily lives. Plus, we package our loose-leaf black tea in recycled-cardboard boxes. All our packaging is 95%-recycled, and we are working towards using 100%-compostable filter paper in our teabags. Importantly, we work with local producers when possible to minimise our carbon footprint and support local businesses. See how our local village is a big part of our production process.
More Tea, Please!
We’ve recently broadened our range of Nerada loose-leaf teas to include 125g and 250g tins. These are available online or from our Nerada tea room in the Atherton Tablelands. This expanded loose-leaf range includes Plantation blend, Black Tea with Lemon Myrtle, Royal Devonshire with Smooth Vanilla, Earl Grey, Green Tea and Chai Tea.
Innovation is part of our DNA. We launched our new probiotic range at the beginning of 2021 to a warm reception. And we’ve got other new products in the pipeline, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you’re a Nerada tea lover, continue to spread the word about our Australian-grown tea. Encourage others to make the switch to an Aussie brew. And if you haven’t tried Nerada yet, our 50th anniversary year is a great time to start. Here’s cheers to cementing the future of Nerada!