Dry Ideas is the world's most southern commercial tea fields and is located south of Hobart in a quiet valley in the hills behind Margate on the edge of the Huon Valley in the foothills of Mount Wellington (Kunanyi).
The Dry Ideas farm is 3½ ha in size and consists of about ½ha of tea, ½ha of ornamental gardens, a small netted sour cherry orchard, 1½ha of remnant pasture and the remainder is undergoing bush regeneration as a wildlife sanctuary in line with Rainforest Alliance principles.
The farm has a deep fertile loam soil and a permanent creek running through it. Irrigation water is obtained from mountain-fed spring wells and a bore, then distributed by carbon-neutral solar pumps to the tea fields and gardens. The site has a long and successful history of growing small fruit as well as apples, plums and pears. Being the only tea fields in Tasmania we are isolated from pests and diseases enabling us to be truly pesticide free.
Dry Ideas produces a green tea 'Huon Green Tea' which is a result of 26 years of research into production and processing to produce a tea enjoyed by Tasmanians. It is a light, ever so slightly oxidised green tea with low astringency. This tea won the state 2016 National Delicious Produce award. The 'Huon Black tea' is a recent introduction and the drying method produced a rich roasted nut flavoured tea which is smooth and easy to drink even without milk. This tea won a silver medal at the 2016 Hobart Fine Food Awards. 'Huon Oolong tea' is processed slightly differently and is a dark tea with a nutty flavour and earthy undertones. To view our teas visit the Pantry on this website.
We, Dr Gordon Brown and my wife Jane Brown, operate the farm. I have a PhD in horticulture from the University of Western Sydney and Jane has a education degree specialising in food science and a masters degree in science education. I have held research positions with state governments (NSW and TAS) and Universities (Sydney and Tasmania) and currently run a private horticultural research company (Scientific Horticulture Pty Ltd) but am currently focussing my commercialising my research on tea in Tasmania.
We purchased the property in 1990 and initially developed the gardens. In 1996 we planted our first tea crop and were selling tea in 2000, making us the first commercial Japanese green tea growers in Australia . Since then we have expanded our tea plantings and now produce a substantial quantity of both black and green tea. We have demonstrated that tea production in Tasmania can be an economic and sustainable crop for the region.
Tea, it is so healthy and refreshing, brilliant to drink everyday. Hot, iced or even as tea wine, one of our new product lines under development. We are also trialling some Matcha and using it in cooking and on ice cream. Our R and D is continuous and we always have new products and processes in the pipeline.
The aim is to have a sustainable farming system which is scientifically sound and environmentally friendly. Of the certifiable systems our preference is for the Sustainable Agriculture Network approach, branded as Rainforest Alliance, as this has a higher level of science with a greater focus on off farm effects than the alternative systems. We have an area of our property dedicated to bush regeneration and for a wildlife habitat. We are currently certified pesticide free (Eurofins 15-0426) and use solar energy to power our irrigation pumps and tea processing equipment.
We have a perennial crop which does not need destructive annual soil cultivation and which has a dense canopy restricting the weeds. This no-till approach prevents soil degradation such as erosion or soil structure disintegration and also maintains a healthy soil ecosystem. We do not use any insecticides or fungicides allowing for numerous bird species to nest in the crop and wallabies graze grass that grows between the rows.
Due to our cool climate and isolation we are one of the few places in the world with no major pests and diseases. As such we do not need to use pesticides, synthetic or organic, such that our tea crop is one of the few in the world that is truly pesticide free. A cool climate is well known to produce excellent tea with our seasonal temperature regime being very close to that of Darjeeling, considered the best region in the world for the production of high quality tea. Through research and innovation we have modified labour intensive harvest and production processes to produce a truly unique, flavoursome artisan tea.
Tea rows after harvest
Blanching green tea
Crushing green and black tea
Drying black tea
Enjoying our tea