Farm to mug: Healthy tea revolutionised
Since purchasing a Bunyip farm in 1999, husband and wife Deva and Lily Wijeyewardene have been making the most of the farm that was previously used to grow herbal teas.
Taking over and expanding the production of the herbal teas has been a worthwhile adventure for the couple, who now have their own business by the name of Australian Tea House.
Their products are sold at Queen Victoria Market among other locations.
“We actually got serious about our farm and started focusing on it around 2009 when we started selling at farmers markets and weekend markets,” Deva said.
“We have a permanent position in the St Kilda Esplanade Market and then one day we got a visit and were invited to have a stall at Queen Victoria Market which for us was a big invitation because I feel it is the pinnacle of all markets.”
Opening up their stall at QVM in April last year, while a slow start due to obvious reasons, has been a massive opportunity for the couple and one that has given them a presence to have “direct contact with [their] customers”.
“QVM is seriously a fantastic community. It’s a very vibrant ecosystem,” Deva said.
“People don’t just come in, run their stall and go home, there is a lot of interaction and the management is also very concerned about everyone being comfortable.”
This supportive environment combined with the success Australian Tea House has been having both online and at the markets has provided Deva and Lily to think in more depth about where they see themselves going with their teas.
This has led them to move their focus from traditional teas of spearmint and chamomile to a new range of functional herbs which are known for helping people deal with health concerns.
The unique functional herb blends are continuously well-researched by Deva and come in the form of both teas and supplement powders, with various teas focused on aiding constipation and cold and flu symptoms.
The supplement powders on offer that have helped the line become their fastest moving yet are the full spectrum turmeric powder and the full spectrum moringa powder.
While the turmeric mix aims to help inflammation and “arthritic issues” the moringa mix is created to support the improvement of memory.
The growing success of the functional herbs have led Deva and Lily to start brainstorming what the future of their company looks like, as they consider converting their farm into a community farm for people to visit.
They are also in the process of setting up a dehydration plant with support from the state government and hope to produce more organic powdered products.
Happy with the progress their company has been making, both Lily and Deva are “impressed” with the Queen Victoria Market and are feeling “positive” about the big changes to come for their company. •
Australian Tea House can be found in the I shed at stall 85-86 or on their website australianteahouse.com
Caption: Lily Wijeyewardene in front of the couple’s Australian Tea House stall at Queen Victoria Market.