News

Australia's best black tea is grown on the Sunshine Coast

Arakai Estate tea plantation, Bellthorpe, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Arakai Estate tea plantation, Bellthorpe, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Fyre Photography

A SUNSHINE Coast hinterland tea grower whose first crop last year won multiple awards will in the next few days start harvesting its second haul.

Located between Maleny and Woodford at Bellthorpe, Arakai Estate is a family business run by Brendon Collins, his wife Kristie and mum and dad Lorraine and Darryl.

Arakai Estate scooped the Australian Tea Masters Golden Leaf Awards for the best Australian black tea and Australian green teas earlier this year.

They also rose above international entrants to win the best overall green tea category.

"We harvested and processed all of our first spring cut just in time to enter in the competition," Brendon said.

"It was our first commercial harvest and first use of all our machinery here. We got in just in time."

Brendon's parents bought the Bellthorpe property in 2000 but it was when he returned from travelling in South and Central America the family started looking for a new product to grow and lit upon tea.

"What originally gave us the idea (was) ...we saw it on a Landline episode about farmers in Victoria working with Japanese companies," he said.

"That was really the thing that made us go 'maybe we should look at tea'."

 

The subtropical climate and fertile soils of the Sunshine Coast hinterland meant the environment was a good match for tea growing, Brendon said.

But Australian tea growing is in its infancy, so the Collins family connected with farmers in Taiwan and tea processors Japan and China to decide on growing, harvesting and processing techniques.

The tea bushes are planted in a hedge and from next week will be harvested every five to six weeks, with lots of pruning, cleaning, fertilising and weeding in between, he said.

The same species of Camellia are used for both green and black tea, but processed differently to achieve the different flavour and appearance, Brendon said.

Six green tea varieties are produced on-site as well as a black tea.

"We had to put in our own processing facility here," he said.

"It has to be processed quite quickly or else the leaf will degrade or it starts to rot."

The special machinery came with manuals in Chinese, which had to be translated, and the tea is processed Taiwan-style.

"Green tea is steamed for five minutes before processing starts," Brendon explained.

"That steaming is what locks it into being green. It stops the oxidisation - (stops) any more breakdown of the leaf.

"For black tea, it gets rolled first, then put into a fermentation chamber - a big humidity and temperature-controlled chamber for two hours.

"It goes in green and comes out copper brown. That warm, humid environment accelerates the breakdown of the leaf."

The Collins family's 400-acre property boasts 300 acres of native forest, 500 avocado trees, commercial timber plantations using native species and 5km of tea bushes grown in hedges.

In recognition of his commercial tree growing efforts, which involves tending 10-12 native rainforest species for cabinet making timbers, Brendon and Darryl also won an Queensland Tree Farmer of the Year Award from Australian Forest Growers in 2012.

The Collins family works in sync with the seasons to harvest and tend different parts of their enterprise: tea harvesting in spring, forest tending and timber cutting in winter.

"Most of it we just learn as we go," Brendon said. "The internet is a great resource for learning anything you want now."

Winning the awards was great for the business, Brendon said.

"The award really kick-started us into having packets and labels," he said.

"We didn't have anything at that point.

"We just entered into it hoping for the best and it really pushed us to get everything in place."

You can buy Arakai Estate tea online at www.arakaiestate.com.au and at Maleny IGA and Maple Street Co-op in Maleny. Avocados grown on the Collins' family farm are sold wholesale by SunnySpot Packhouse.

If you have timber you need milled and can bring it to the Bellthorpe property, contact Brendon on (07) 5496 5005.

Topics:  arakai estate, farming, general-seniors-news, sunshine coast hinterland, tea, tea house


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Firm told to apologise, pay back $16K to Korean backpackers

Boonah Packing Pty Ltd supplied labour to one of Australia's leading carrot producers, Scott Moffat & Co, trading as Moffatt Fresh Produce who supply carrots to major supermarket chains like Woolworths and Aldi.

Boonah business caught ripping off foreign workers

Storms are coming! What it means for your long weekend

Yes, it's going to affect your long weekend

Flights resume as Bali ash cloud clears

Tourists are finding themselves caught in Bali, or unable to fly, after a volcanic ash cloud developed over the Indonesian island.

Jetstar was forced to cancel seven flights on Tuesday

Local Partners

Struggle Street caught filming despite protest

Controversial documentary reportedly shot footage at Centrelink

Ipswich pensioner wins $260K on scratchie

BIG WIN: A woman purchased a ticket at a Goodna newsagency and is now $260K richer.

Found out while waiting in the doctor's surgery

Firm told to apologise, pay back $16K to Korean backpackers

Boonah Packing Pty Ltd supplied labour to one of Australia's leading carrot producers, Scott Moffat & Co, trading as Moffatt Fresh Produce who supply carrots to major supermarket chains like Woolworths and Aldi.

Boonah business caught ripping off foreign workers

OPINION: God Save America from Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, in Abingdon, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

How can America ever vote for Donald Trump as president?

YOUR SAY: Burnout boy divides opinion on Facebook

Riley Dobson does a burnout at the property of his family in Thagoona.

VIDEO creates polarising opinions with readers.

Backpacker tax scrapped as changes bite on farmers

Rob Bauer of Bauer's Organic Farm. The farm has launched a paddock-to-plate online shop. Photo: LucyRC Photography

Region's farmers still unhappy with decision

Get ready to say goodbye to another Aussie icon

Say goodbye to the iconic Sunnyboy iceblock.

Nostalgic ice blocks will be sold no more

OPINION: Kid burnout makes no sense

Riley Dobson does a burnout at the property of his family in Thagoona.Photo: Contributed

SHOULD Alex Dobson have let his son do a burnout?

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Channel 9 orders second season of Doctor Doctor

Rodger Corser stars in the TV series Doctor Doctor.

RURAL medical drama finds a loyal following.

MOVIE REVIEW: Storks delivers family fun

A scene from the movie Storks.

ANIMATION can be hit or miss but when it hits, it hits hard.

Nick 'the snake' to call the shots on Survivor jury

Australian Survivor contestant Nick Iadanza.

LATEST evictee is out of the game but will still have a say.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.