ITO EN Australia Pty Ltd, is a 100% owned subsidiary of the largest Green Tea manufacturer in Japan - ITO EN, LTD. In 1993, the Victorian Government invited ITO EN, LTD to start growing Japanese green tea in Australia. We researched for the best location for growing the Japanese tea cultivar all over Australia and finally discovered North East Victoria had the best agricultural conditions for the varieties. ITO EN wanted to grow Japanese tea in Australia because of the lack of tea related pests and diseases that are found In Japan, and to ensure that there was a stable supply of freshly processed tea in the non-harvesting season in Japan.
In 1994, preparation of ITO EN Australia and the first proposal to import green tea plants from Japan had taken place; however, all the seedlings perished after the rigorous quarantine treatment. In 1995, ITO EN Australia had some discussions with AQIS about the method of importing tea plants and conducted tests and tried importing several times. Finally, we succeeded in keeping the plants alive. In 1996, we settled the plants at a nursery in Thornton Victoria and testing the growth pattern and propagation of the plants commenced.
By 2000, we started to look for potential growers to grow tea plants. We encountered difficulties in finding them because in the past no one had experienced cultivation of Japanese tea plants in Victoria and it required at least 4 years from planting before the first harvest. We invited potential growers to Japan to demonstrate the tea farming practice and developed a relationship with the growers to become partners. In September 2000, we began propagation of green tea plants and by the end of 2000; we signed the final contracts with growers. May of 2001 saw the first planting of the tea plants at the farms.
In July 2003, it was the start of the preparation to build a tea processing facility in Wangaratta (North East Victoria), with construction beginning in April 2004 with the installation of the 1st processing line starting in September 2004.
October 2004 was the official opening of the factory with various VIP’s from Australia and Japan, along with local government representatives, growers and other officials celebrating the day and after a successful opening, the real job of manufacturing of crude tea began.
By 2008 the additional processing line was needed and the 2nd processing line was installed in September and in operation by October. Until 2010, the most of our crude tea was exported to Japan but it was also the time when we remodelled our business to started our local distribution exercises of our tea into Australian Food Market.