It was 2013, and Samara Billy was showing off her community to representatives from Indigenous business facilitator Enterprise Learning Projects (ELP). The community of Minyerri was keen to start an arts centre, but in doing so, stumbled upon an opportunity to bring one of their traditions to the tea market.
"I took them out bush, and we picked a bit of Gulbarn and I told them how we use it," Ms Billy said, outside the now up-and-running arts centre.
"You have to just boil it up and wait for it to cool, or you can just have a shower with it. "It's good to relax your body, if you're feeling a bit stressed."
Gulbarn grows wild in and around Minyerri, about 580 kilometres south-east of Darwin. For generations, Gulbarn has been primarily used as a comforting drink to soothe coughs and colds. It does not contain caffeine, but with the same kinds of properties and flavonoids as green tea, it is now taking on new life as a drink for any time of day, and is attracting interest from buyers across Australia, China and Taiwan.
"I think Gulbarn is a really good example of the intersection of western market knowledge, and traditional Aboriginal knowledge, and the possibilities that come about when people from different walks of life have the chance to explore enterprise opportunities," Laura Egan, founder of ELP said.
"There's demand from across Australia, from existing tea companies and tea entrepreneurs that let us know that this is gold really, and it's just a matter of how they want to grow the business." - Laura Egan, Founder ELP
Ms Billy said she initially did not think anyone would be interested in a little bush plant. Now, her sights are set on growing the business, little by little.
"I mean it's been there the whole time, but nobody wanted to use it," she said.
"I'm hoping that we can sell more, but I want to start small first - then we can build it up little by little."
The tea is picked, dried and packaged in Minyerri with the help of the community. Packing days are an all-in community endeavour, and Ms Billy laughed that many could not wait until packing day on Thursdays. "When it's Monday they come in and say 'oh when are we going to do Gulbarn packaging?'"
The business is not without its challenges though. Internet access is an ongoing issue, and at this stage the online sales are managed by ELP from Katherine.
"Internet access in the community is a challenge, and the business would be really well supported by having access to internet services which would enable us then to Skype, and maintain regular contact from our base here in Katherine," Ms Egan said.
ELP enterprise facilitator Lillian Tait, said that while Gulbarn tea had exceeded expectations, it was also moving at a pace that was directed by the community.
"So if people don't want to package, then there's no tea, and that's fine too," she said.
The business is not exclusively run by women, but it is being spearheaded by the women in the community.
"Samara is hugely inspirational, she's a real trailblazer within Minyerri community and she's showing all of the qualities of a brilliant entrepreneur and is a real role model for the young women in Minyerri," Ms Egan said.
The success is also giving others in the community the motivation and confidence to come forward with other business ideas.
"Gulbarn is just one of their many bush plants that's delicious as tea, and so lots of people have been coming out of the woodwork saying 'have you tasted this?' So that's really exciting - we're hoping to explore the other options soon," Ms Tait said.
"Gulbarn is a great example, but it's really just scratching the surface of what's possible in terms of grass-roots Aboriginal enterprise."