Madame Flavour is an Australian tea company that has quickly gathered a fan base with its biodegradable pyramid-shaped tea bags and unique blends that both surprise and delight.
We caught up with founder Corinne Noyes to discuss her love of Australian native ingredients and their role in making Madame Flavour blends stand out.
With so many brands of tea in the market what sets Madame Flavour apart?
Firstly, we are Australian owned, and a lot of people are surprised when they hear how small we are. Madame Flavour is sold in supermarkets but we’re actually a close-knit group of only six team members.
I have a background in marketing and wanted to create a tea selection that was really high quality and had a personal touch and connection with tea drinkers – or our Kindred Spirits as we call them. Our team cares deeply about the sensory elements of recipe creation and beautiful packaging, so our teas taste amazing and also look and smell fresh and natural when you open the box. When tea drinkers contact us about where they can buy or to share personal stories, we answer every one personally.
When did you first come across lemon myrtle and anise myrtle?
I became aware of Australian native plants before I started Madame Flavour. I live on 40-acres of temperate rainforest in South Gippsland, Victoria and when I first met my neighbour in 2000, he told me about the native plants on my land that had been used by indigenous people and pioneers in food and drinks. I thought wow, there are natural edible plants growing here that I can make use of!
I joined the local Prom Country Bush Foods Association where I was introduced to a broader range of native plants including lemon myrtle. That was 20 years ago, when Australian native ingredients weren’t really used in commercial products.
I’ve had a long-term partnership and journey with Gary and his family who founded Australian Native Products. I love that connection.
Do you find your customers like native flavours in their tea? What is it about the native ingredients that you think people like?
I think it’s taken time for people to embrace Australian native ingredients. We tend to know more about ingredients from other countries over our own! I do a lot of team training for hotels and airlines where I bring along the fresh leaf of each native ingredient we use. When you have a fresh leaf and allow people to smell and taste it, they just get so excited. I have them break off a leaf and scrunch it up before smelling and they’re often really surprised by the intensity of flavours and uniqueness.
I love using native plants in our tea and always make sure to highlight them on the packaging. Lemon myrtle is one of the most wonderful, as is the anise, which I pair with licorice in our Luscious Licorice infusion.
The ethical and sustainable principles that Madame Flavour adheres to are impressive. Do you mind sharing more information about them?
Of course. All of our black tea is Rainforest Alliance certified and I was interested in seeing this for myself, rather than relying on a certification.
When I was sourcing the estates that we would buy tea from in Sri Lanka, I made sure to visit them all in person and also visited the factory where our tea is packaged. My daughter was very young at the time, she came with me and everyone called her ‘Little Madame’. We have been working with the same estates and factory in Sri Lanka ever since, that’s 13 years! And I’ve been back dozens of times. We’ve also sourced our Jasmine tea from the same garden in China since the beginning.
We’re well-known in Australia for our pyramid tea bags, but when I first started Madame Flavour in 2007, they weren’t readily available in Australia. Previously I’d only known them to be made from nylon, but I discovered a company in Japan that was making corn starch based, biodegradable pyramid bags.
We’ve used these since day one and they’re important to me from an environmental and sustainability perspective.
What’s your favourite blend? And how do you like to enjoy it?
When I’m feeling like caffeine, an Earl Grey is my go-to tea. When I was looking at which ingredients I could add to our Earl Grey blend to make it extra special, I thought that bergamot, (the citrus traditionally used in Earl Grey) and lemon myrtle would work perfectly together.
This led to the creation of our Grey de Luxe blend. The intense slightly sweeter notes of the lemon myrtle give a wonderful character to the blend! And the feedback we get from Earl Grey drinkers is that they love it too.
I’ve also been enjoying a new blend that we’ve just launched called Deeply Relaxing Chamomile. It’s full of relaxing herbs, including passionflower and we’ve added lemon myrtle for extra flavour. It’s a beauty!