Australia’s Kettle Town tea company made it’s debut last December as a small specialty tea company that developed some unique blends for pairing with dessert. It is unlikely that anyone would have predicted that seven months later they would be getting international attention for introducing a red ant tea.
Kettle Town was founded by Vincent Maneno and Lily Wang. Maneno became enamored with tea when he and his brother launched into a challenge to abstain from alcohol for one year. Wang, who loves to bake, instantly fell in love with the flavors and forms of tea and the ways that they could pair with sweet treats.
They began with a small number of blends. One combined blueberry and almond with black tea and another used vanilla, black tea and peppermint. Then Maneno met Skye Blackburn of The Edible Bug. Blackburn, who has degrees in entomology and food science, is passionate about the ways that insects could be farmed as protein replacements for traditional meats. Her online shop boasts a range of frozen and roasted bugs for snacking including silkworms, crickets and scorpions. Blackburn asked Maneno and Wang to take a chance on some ants.
She shipped them a vial of dehydrated ants and when Maneno and wang put them in water they were struck by the tart, citrusy flavor that emerged. The result was a blend called Strawberry Ant Hills. It combines black tea with the dehydrated ants, raspberry leaves and some flavoring. Kettle Town describes the tea as having flavors of “sweet strawberry with a smokey citrus tang.”