Lankan tea company launches new brand
All it took was one moment - just a single realisation - to change Aj
Perera's business life forever.
Perera, 42, has worked in the tea business since 1990. His older
brother, Ranjit, supervises the growing and processing of tea leaves on
a "very large" property in Kandy, where 180 are employed, Aj Perera
The tea the brothers grow in Sri Lanka, as well as a variety of tea
products and accessories they produce, are sold to other tea companies
through their company, Fine Teas USA. Aj is president of the company and
his wife, Lalitha, also works for the company. Their business is healthy
and thriving, said Aj Perera, explaining the satisfaction that comes
with breaking into the competitive, hard-to-crack tea market. "To get in
is not easy," he said, adding that they sell about 80,000 metric tons -
or 78,736 tons - of loose tea per year.
But about a year ago, Perera realised that if he was going to make a
name for himself, he'd have to develop his own brand of tea. Kuni is
Kuni debuted in Winter Haven in August at 2 J's Java, the coffee shop
owned by Perera's partner, Jake Deck, and his wife, Jodi. In two months,
Perera said sales of the brand have increased by 50 per cent. The black
tea is available in several grades, including pekoe, flowery pekoe,
flowery orange pekoe, broken orange pekoe, orange pekoe, flowery
fannings, chai and Earl Grey. Chai and Earl Grey have been the most
popular varieties, Jake Deck said.
Now that the tea has been developed and branded, the next goal is to
make it available on a large scale. Perera and Jake Deck have set their
sights on Publix and have submitted the paperwork in hopes the grocery
store chain will put it on its shelves.
"Eventually it will be sold across the U.S.," Perera said.
Polk County Business journal