Howard Rubin and Elle Fikke arrived in Australia in 1987 and quickly set about starting a herb industry. Having left Europe, owing to the Chernobyl disaster, they sought a new, clean and green place to live and work. Both are trained herbalists and were amazed to discover that, apart from some herb loving gardeners, there was no larger scale herb-growing in the country.
They formed Herb Farms Australia, to encourage growers into planting and harvesting herbs, and set up a marketing system to sell the herbs to capital city markets. They started off with culinary herbs, as they could be sold fresh, which was a ready incentive for growers to try out these new crops. After some years the first medicinal crop was planted: Echinacea, which was contracted by Blackmores. At the same time, they started Organic Herb Growers of Australia (OHGA) – one of the original organic certification bodies. OHGA merged with the BFA to form Australian Certified Organic (ACO). As OHGA’s president, Howard served on the federal government’s Organic Producers Advisory Committee for 14 years and was one of the authors of the original National Standards for Organic Produce.
Koala Tea was founded in 1990 and is the original ACO certified herbal tea manufacturer. The tea factory is located in the Alstonville Industrial Estate, and from humble beginnings they now sell to Woolworths and Coles supermarkets, as well as Go Vita health food stores and several independent IGA stores. Their Turmeric Tea is one of the IGA’s best sellers. Koala Teas are unique in that they are blends of herbs only, with no other ingredients like oils or extracts, which are often added by other manufacturers. The best quality herbs are carefully sourced and tested, and all are certified organic. Each tea is expertly blended using age old recipes. The teas are manufactured into tea bags because that way every cup has the right amount of each herb. Koala Tea has perfected the art of milling and blending herbs. Best of all is that the teas not only do what they claim, but taste great too.
Koala Tea has won several awards over the years and has been inducted into the ACO Organic Hall of Fame. But apart from that, they feel that their biggest reward is the loyalty and appreciation of their customers. The teas are available locally in Santos, Supa IGA Byron, Go Vita, Coles and Woolies. Try some today.