OUR TEA RANGENATURAL INGREDIENTS- Organic, wild-crafted & pesticide-free ingredients used and no use of flavourings or pesticides- for example real berries and real vanilla bean.
REAL HEALTH BENEFITS- Created by Naturopath & Herbalist, Sarita Merlo, for health and wellbeing.
DIVERSE RANGE OF TEAS- We offer teas such as English Breakfast and Chai for the traditional tea drinker to Energy, Detox and Oolong for the more adventurous and health conscious tea drinker- thereby catering to all tastes and requirements.
RANGE OF PACKAGING OPTIONS- All teas are offered in seven different packaging styles to suit tea drinking at home, work or when travelling.
LOOSE TEA & TEABAG OPTIONS- We offer loose tea and biodegradable pyramid teabags.
BIODEGRADABLE PYRAMID TEABAGS- Our premium pyramid teabags are made from a material called Soilon that is a biodegradable corn-starch material- unlike many on the market made from a nylon-derivative.
ARTISAN TEAS- Our black, green, oolong and white teas are sourced from small, family-run farms that are situated at a high elevation in traditional tea growing countries such as Sri Lanka, India, China and Taiwan. Traditional farming practices are employed producing high quality teas (without the use of pesticides)- as opposed to commodity teas produced by big business.
MANY BREWING & SERVING OPTIONS- We offer a range of teaware to suit tea drinking at home, work or when on-the-go.
Firstly, it is important that you understand the distinction between tea and herbal tea. "Tea" comes from the Camellia sinensis plant and there are four types that involve different methods of processing- including Black, Green, Oolong and White tea. "Herbal teas" consist of flowers, leaves, roots, stems and fruits that come from all other plants other than the tea plant. Most of our teas are technically "herbal teas".
We use over 50 ingredients across our herbal tea range and source both locally and overseas- depending on where these particular plants grow best and where there is a ready supply. Most herbs and ingredients that we use for our herbal tea range are certified organic or wildcrafted, meaning that they come from a natural and unpolluted source, growing naturally. For example, our Eucalyptus comes from a family property in Daylseford, Victoria- where the leaves are literally plucked from the tree when we order. We take great pride in sourcing the very best and freshest ingredients that we can find and I think that the vibrant colours and exquisite flavours reflect this.
We take extreme care at Byron Bay Tea Company (BBTC) to select teas of exceptional quality from traditional tea-growing countries around the world- such as Sri Lanka, India, China and Taiwan. They are teas crafted by experienced tea artisans- not commodity tea grown by a big business. So, what’s the difference?
Traditional TeaLet’s first understand the major difference between “traditional” and “commodity” tea. Commodity tea is tea grown by large companies in newly-planted tea fields in areas of the world not usually associated with tea growing and that have very little tea making history. Conversely, traditionally-made tea uses well-established methodologies and techniques to do what tea workers and mother nature do best together- make high quality and distinctive tea. Traditional tea making utilizes the terroir of each place (soil, geography, climate, weather, etc) and local tea bush cultivators to show a tea plantation’s best flavour advantage.
The process of traditional tea making utilizes hundreds of years of knowledge and experience in the crafting of fine tea. No two tea producing countries produce tea in exactly the same way. It is differences both great and small that give tea a national identity- and many regional differences too. We select tea from small family tea plantations, small village production, and tightly controlled tea co-operatives. In these plantations, the ability to make great tea is a point of pride for the tea makers, and generations of the same family carry on tea making traditions established by previous generations.
Traditional tea farmers/producers must be in harmony with nature and understand the fluctuations in weather, soil conditions, how to maintain healthy tea bushes, and how the keen senses of a skilled tea master (sight, smell, touch and hearing) influence from start to finish the outcome of the finished tea. The livelihood of each family or tea village depends on knowledge of nature and the ability to deal with problems and situations that arise during the harvest times. For these people, tea is their life and their life is tea. This accounts for the care and respect they have for their tea.
Traditional tea production is sustainable on many levels. It uses time-honored methods of pest control (such as encouraging the presence of birds in the tea plantations and the introduction of plants that discourage the presence of certain pests) and organic farming practices (soil enrichment, worm production and natural fertilizers made from food sources and manure). A traditional tea plantation does not make use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
Additionally, the teas we source at BBTC come from tea plantations where the elevation is high- away from the pests that plague low elevation tea plantations. The garden is comprised of mature tea bushes (which produce the best teas) that are well-adapted to their environment. In such tea plantations local varieties of tea bushes or tea trees will have been growing in that place for decades. This means that the roots of these tea bushes will be well dispersed under and throughout the soil, allowing healthy soil to nurture the bushes through the roots. Local tea bush cultivators add complexity and individuality to finished tea and keep the diversity of taste alive and well from region to region.
At BBTC we are often asked whether or not our teas are certified organic. Our answer is no and this is because the tea plantations that are “certified organic” are at a lower elevation and produce poorer quality tea. We prefer to source premium quality tea from plantations at a higher elevation where traditional farming practices are used and the tea produced is pesticide-free. The superior flavour in these teas is undeniable and to put it quite simply, at BBTC we are yet to try a certified organic tea that is up to the same standard.
Commodity TeaIn comparison, commodity tea (or industrial tea, agro business tea, etc.) is just that- intensively grown and frequently harvested leaf that is grown for high harvest yields, not for distinctive flavors or unique qualities. This tea is grown for wholesale businesses of commercial grade tea, flavored tea blends and bottled tea drinks. The goal for Industrial tea producers is low production cost and abundant yield, a combination that does not result in premium quality tea.
Commodity tea is grown in large industrial tea plantations in flat, low-lying agricultural areas in non-historic tea producing countries where tea growing is a relatively new industry. The techniques used are standardized and mechanized- typical of agribusiness agriculture.
Tea plantations such as these exist throughout most of Africa, parts of South America and in parts of Australia. Whereas most English and Irish tea companies once used China, India, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) teas in their blends, these tea sources have been replaced in the last 20 years by teas grown in newly-developed tea plantations in unusual places. Part of this switch is based on simple supply issues (there is not enough traditional tea in the world for large companies to use even if they wanted to pay higher prices) and price issues (these new modern teas can be grown and harvested at far less cost than traditionally-made tea).
In these plantations, the soil is often not rich enough for the plants to depend on, so large amounts of pesticides and commercial fertilizers are required to maintain such tea bushes. Due to this artificial condition, the roots of these plants mass together in a ball just under the surface of the soil, which means that what is nourishing the plants is the applied chemicals, not the soil.
There is no sustainability in this scheme without the continued heavy application of fertilizers there is no ability for the soil to sustain the tea plants. And, there is no diversity among the tea bushes- all the plants are clones of one type and genetically the same. So, there is no effort made to ensure layers of flavor or subtle differences in these teas.
And lastly, commodity tea has no history, culture, inherited knowledge, high-elevation location, cooling clouds and mist, or moisture-laden weather, seasonal differences, or other historical or cultural elements that are part of traditional tea making culture. It is business-grown tea, pure and simple. Commodity tea is not the type of tea that we want to drink or sell to our customers. At BBTC we are committed to selling traditional tea and supporting the efforts of artisan tea makers who produce delicious, premium quality tea.
Below are some pics of Sarita's visit to Sri Lanka in 2013 to check out how the experts produce this little brown beverage that has become so popular to drink all around the world. It was a fantastic insight into the art of producing high quality tea.
So, given the choice, which tea do you want in your cup?