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SA native tea brand to launch on international markets

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A South Australian range of teas flavoured with native ingredients such as lemon myrtle, finger lime and ants is preparing for an international launch.

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Co-founded by cook and food writer Rebecca Sullivan and artist and high school teacher Damien Coulthard, Clare Valley-based Warndu has sold its native teas, vinegars and oils in Australia since 2016.

But an increase in demand for Warndu products and a steady growth in overseas inquiries has convinced them to set up distribution networks in the US, UK, Germany and Singapore.

Sullivan says there will also be an international shipping option on the company website by September.

“At the moment if someone wants a product sent internationally, we go and find out how much it costs and, if they’re happy to pay the postage, we’ll send it,” she says.

“Asian countries, especially, get what we do because they tend to eat for medicine anyway, so they get the medicinal properties of our teas.”

Sullivan will also travel to the US next month to build her food knowledge further after recently being named a 2019 Yale University World Fellow.

Warndu uses sustainable native Australian plants, nuts, seeds and proteins in its products, which include bush tomato and macadamia dukkah, roo broth, and macadamia milk with wild honey.

The range of loose-leaf and brew-bag teas feature ingredients such as finger limes from Byron Bay and river mint from South Australia.

Coulthard is from Adnyamathanha country in the Flinders Ranges and remains very connected to his heritage and culture.

Warndu means “good” in Adnyamathanha and reflects the brand’s aim of providing nutritious food that has a positive impact on people both physically and mentally.

In April, Sullivan and Coulthard launched their cookbook, Warndu Mai (Good Food), in a bid to make sustainable native ingredients part of Australian’s everyday diet. The cookbook was picked up by major department stores Big W and Target.

Sullivan says the consistent advocacy of well-known chefs, as well as increased media exposure, has contributed to a surge of interest in native Australian ingredients, paving the way for Warndu’s success.

She hopes that in the future, the business can begin integrating native foods from other indigenous cultures.

The US trip, from August until December, will give her the opportunity to collaborate with experts in her field from across the globe.

“I’ve reached out to lots of different departments, including American indigenous departments, to have conversations to see if there’s any potential collaboration with Warndu and native Americans,” Sullivan says.

“I’m going to be writing another book about climate change and food and farming, because we bought a farm.

“I’m also going to work with the Yale Food Initiative. I’m doing some work on campus food and sustainability on campus, so it will still be in and around sustainability and food.

“But my big project while I’m there is to interview all of my food farming heroes in the US.”

Sullivan is one of 16 people selected for the annual program, which includes an open data innovator from China, a Nigerian Olympian and a Chilean National Geographic environmental activist.

This article was first published on The Lead.

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