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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.

The tea the Pereras 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. 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 that brand.

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

 

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