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Ruvinika Ranasinghe: Brewing more than a cup of tea

Posted: 3 October 2023

Sri Lanka, Alumni, Experience, Impact, Inclusion,

Ruvinika (Ruvi) Ranasinghe, a second-generation tea exporter from Sri Lanka and an Australia Awards alumna, first developed the initial idea of Térapy Ceylon in 2019. The concept was to combine tea with Ayurveda and Sri Lankan traditions for a special tea experience. In exploring this idea, Ruvi had very little knowledge of how to take it to the global market. It was at this juncture that she learnt about the Australia Awards Short Course on Women Trading Globally, delivered by the Export Council of Australia. Ruvi realised that this was exactly the course she was looking for to gain the knowledge and tools required to position her product in a global marketplace. As a result, she applied and received the opportunity to attend the Short Course.

Ruvi travelled to Perth together with 15 other Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and small business owners to attend the Short Course in June 2019. This was Ruvi’s first visit to Western Australia, and she enjoyed its unique landscape. She fondly recalls attending lectures and various site visits. Her biggest takeaway from her journey was the network she built with her course-mates. They remain close friends and utilise the network to provide professional support and guidance, as well as emotional support and friendship. Ruvi cherishes her participation in the Short Course on Women Trading Globally, which promoted growth in neighbouring countries and identified the need to promote global cooperation rather than individual economic strength. Inspired by this mindset, much of Ruvi’s entrepreneurship journey is shaped with the same vision of community growth, rather than individual success.

Ruvi sourcing ingredients for Térapy Ceylon.

After completing the Short Course, Ruvi returned to Sri Lanka armed with ideas and options on how to best market and distribute Térapy Ceylon in the overseas market. ‘In 2020, Térapy Ceylon was launched,’ Ruvi says. ‘Térapy Ceylon Teas are based on 100% pure Ceylon teas infused with Sri Lanka’s ancient heritage of Ayurvedic remedies packed in Sri Lanka.’ Ruvi and the Térapy Ceylon team work with indigenous Ayurvedic practitioners to source the finest endemic, heirloom ingredients. ‘During my many travels to meet indigenous Ayurvedic practitioners in remote parts of the island, I also connected with many villagers and rural communities who welcomed me into their homes and shared their knowledge and expertise,’ Ruvi says. ‘Soon, I saw my calling was much greater than merely marrying Ayurveda with tea. I saw the passion they had towards what they harvested and enjoyed their rich sustainable lifestyles. Soon, many of the herbs we sourced and infused into our blends came from these communities.’

Térapy Ceylon works with indigenous farmers who own their own land and set the price for the goods that they provide. As a policy, the team at Térapy Ceylon does not negotiate with farmers for lower prices; instead, they accept market rates, being mindful of the impact that conventional farming practices have had on the environment and on local communities. As the Térapy project expands and grows, the team is committed to working closely with the local indigenous communities and farmers to use only organic, environmentally friendly and ethical methods to maintain the supply of these ingredients without harming the soil or environment.

Ruvi engaging with local farmers on a field trip to find ingredients.

As an organic farming enthusiast, Ruvi pays special attention to how Térapy Ceylon sources its ingredients, how the products are packaged and the environmental impact of every decision the company makes. ‘We want the product to be packed with a luxurious finish but still be sustainable using biodegradable material. For this, we developed a truly unique ‘one-of-a-kind’ sliding pack, using Forest Stewardship Council-approved material that is responsibly sourced. These papers are sourced from trees that are harvested in a process that does not result in a net loss of forests over a period of time. Forests with irreplaceable value to the environment and eco-balance are identified and maintained. This accreditation also ensures fair wages and many other ethical factors,’ Ruvi says.

The tea packs are 100% recyclable, and the tea bags are 100% biodegradable. They are stitched and not heat-sealed, which means that there is no plastic that contaminates the cup of tea. The filter paper is produced from cellulose fibres such as abaca and a wood pulp, components that are naturally compostable and biodegradable. Most importantly, they are unbleached.

Ruvi with tea pluckers on a tea estate.

In August 2023, Térapy Ceylon was proud to be selected as one of ten finalists in the Climate Adaptation Accelerator launched under a partnership between USAID and Good Life X—a result of the perseverance and hard work of Ruvi and her team to trade in a more sustainable and regenerative way.

Ruvi’s aim is to continue to grow Térapy Ceylon in the global market and achieve a reasonable level of turnover to help retain profits in Sri Lanka while exporting the country’s endemic herbs and spices to the global consumer.