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The Husk Mill

The Husk Mill

If one works off the basis that anything made from the same major ingredient in chocolate has to be delicious,  Cherylea Browne and Elaina Downey’s intriguing, wonderfully pungent concoctions are a sure bet.

Made from cacao husks, which are traditionally considered a waste product, The Husk Mill teas smell impossibly chocolatey, yet taste light, clean and almost honeyish in the mouth.

It began one night in Sydney in 2014 when best friends Elaina and Cherylea (a professional matchmaker and human anatomy lecturer respectively) were trying to decide what they could both have for dessert – a decision heavily impacted by their different autoimmune diseases.

“[Cherylea] wanted a type of chocolate (one that her sulphite intolerance allowed), and I didn’t want chocolate as my body was changing from the treatment I was on,” says Elaina. “After much deliberating we settled on a tisane as it was the only thing we could share. That was the light bulb moment when we realised we needed to create something that was both delicious, but also free of additives and anything bad in general.”

Inspired by a  cacao tea blend she’d tried in Peru, Elaina and Cherylea began experimenting with Australian grown cacao husks – though sourcing was trickier than she anticipated due to the industry being so small and young.

“There was a moment when we thought we would have to cease operations as our supplier had realised there might be a market for cacao husk tea… and didn’t want to supply [to] us any more,”  says Elaina. “Thankfully we found another plantation that is fully supportive of our enterprise and wants to see us flourish.”

That plantation is Charley’s Chocolate Factory from Mission Beach, near the Daintree - one of the very few plantations in the world to both grow and make their own single origin chocolate on site. (A process they’ve coined ‘tree to bar’.)

So far Elaina and Cherylea have created three different blends: an original, which is mixed with Madagascan vanilla pods, a spicy marsala-inspired chai, and a light coconut blend.

All three are blended by hand in Newtown and are completely sugar, caffeine, preservative and additive free.  Best of all, cacao contains theobromine which releases endorphins slowly, so drinkers can avoid the highs and crashes normally associated with chocolate and a ristretto.

While Cherylea and Elaina initially saw their tea range at the core of The Husk Mill, they also envisioned other offshoots, like a cacao body care range that took advantage of the clean, fibrous nature of the husk.  While they tested lots of different concepts, it was their original, impossibly chocolately tisanes that were the winner.  Because while there are other cacao teas out there, The Husk Mills are like nothing else on the market.

“Our teas are different as the factors that contribute to the final taste – the soil they are grown in, climate and so on, all add to a unique flavour profile,” Elaina explains.

Since launching, interest in The Husk Mill’s teas has skyrocketed and the pair are fighting to find the time to keep up. 

The only way to understand why is to try a cup. Like a Dutch hot chocolate without the guilt or an English Breakfast Willy Wonka-fied, these delicious concoctions are blends that have to be tasted to be believed. 

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Check out The Husk Mill's teas here.