As Sri Lanka battles an acute economic crisis, the founders of Brisbane-based tea brand Origin Tea are encouraging Australians to ‘sip for Sri Lanka’ in a bid to support the country.
Founded by brothers Chris and Lawrence Seaton, Origin Tea imports around 200,000kgs of Ceylon tea annually from Sri Lanka and has plans to double that by the end of next year.
But with Sri Lanka’s currency now almost worthless and imports of supplies and materials decimated, Origin Tea has had to organise alternative packaging and other ingredients to maintain production and meet its commitments to Australian customers.
The timing of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis could not have been worse for Origin Tea, with the company preparing to make its debut in Australian supermarkets and retail orders worth around $3 million, after spending several years building brand awareness through cafes.
But by working closely with its Sri Lankan employees to overcome the daily – sometimes hourly – obstacles, the Seatons’ cult Sticky Chai product has arrived on schedule on supermarket shelves this month, with fresh packaging and new flavours.
“With the situation in Sri Lanka worsening by the day, making and exporting our tea has become vital to helping families get food on the table and get through the current crisis, so we hope Australians will get onboard and sip some tea for Sri Lanka,” said the brothers.
Origin Tea continues to keep hundreds of Sri Lankans in employment (and thousands more indirectly), using diesel reserves to shuttle them to and from work, and to fuel generators at the Colombo factory, where daily power cuts can last eight hours.
The company has set up a GoFundMe page to organise money for basic necessities for Sri Lankans, such as medicine and food.