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Queenstown tourism operator hit hard by Covid-19 turns over new leaf with tea business

A Queenstown-based tourism operator hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic is brewing up a new business idea that aims to improve the lives of Sri Lankan tea growers. 

Before the pandemic, Impact Escapes provided bespoke track tours in Sri Lanka.

Now, co-founders Alex Musgrave and Sally Miller have launched Picker's Pocket, which sourced its produce from the tea estates it used to tour with visitors.

Co-founders Alex Musgrave and Sally Miller said they wanted to bring the taste of Sri Lanka to New Zealand through the contacts they already had. 

Musgrave said they started the company because they wanted to support estate owners in the post-Covid world. Picker's Pocketworks in partnership with the Tea Leaf Trust to provide education and educational facilities to estate workers and their children.

She said instead of blending teas from different estates, the company wanted to offer “single estate tea”.

“In much the same way that people are now buying artisan beer or single-estate wines, there’s growing appreciation for fine tea,” Musgrave said. 

“The flavours are guided by the weather and change slightly depending on the season, unlike highly processed and blended tea. Tea connoisseurs can definitely taste the difference.”