ITO EN is launching a lineup of new ice-steeped cold brew ready-to-drink teas across two award-winning beverage brands, matcha LOVE® and TEAS’ TEA® Organic. Each new beverage leverages authentic Japanese cold brew processes, ice-steeping the tea to bring out the smooth, naturally mellow sweetness of green and black teas. The new teas will begin shipping to retailers in May.
“Consumer demand for cold brew beverages is at an all-time high, and we believe the launch of our new matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew teas will help us establish a new segment in the RTD tea category,” said Rona Tison, Senior Vice President of ITO EN (North America) INC. “Given ITO EN’s deep-rooted expertise in Japanese cold brew methods called Mizudashi, we feel there’s an enormous opportunity for us to take the leadership role for this innovative set. We’ve elevated the simple essence of our tea leaves and created a more delicate taste with a smooth, clean finish.”
ITO EN’s new cold brew creations provide an entirely new spin on conventional green and black teas. Ice-steeping the high-quality, premium tea leaves draws out a more nuanced, smooth taste that is refreshingly delicious. Product details include:
Matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic are currently available at natural food stores and specialty supermarkets nationwide, to include Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Wegmans and The Fresh Market. Products are also available at ITO EN brand retail stores and online at Amazon.com. For more information on the brands, visit matcha LOVE at www.matchalove.com and TEAS’ TEA Organic at www.teastea.com.
By Lorrie Baumann
Davidson’s Organics celebrates its 40th anniversary with rebranded packaging, a new line of tea jellies and a new line of specialty tea chocolates.
“Consumers today live very busy lifestyles. They’re looking for simplicity, value and health benefits – all in a simple format,” said Kunall Patel, Davidson’s Organics Owner and Director. “Our new package design meets all those needs while providing a very visual, trendy and high-profile look.”
While Davidson’s Organics has been in business since 1976, Patel and his family bought the brand in 2007 after the company, which had been growing organic teas in India since the 1920s, decided to vertically integrate by acquiring a business active in the North American market. Today, the same farmer cooperative of third-generation tea growers grows the tea leaves in India, and Davidson’s Organics imports them to its plant in Sparks, Nevada, where the teas are blended, manufactured, packaged and shipped to retailers.
“We’re the only tea company today that’s 100 percent vertically integrated from farm to cup,” Patel said. “This is different from the majority of other operations who outsource sourcing, blending, manufacturing and distribution. We do everything under one roof.”
The company currently offers about 300 flavors of USDA-certified organic and kosher-certified tea – the largest product range of organic teas on the market. They include 11 distinct product categories: black, green and white teas; dessert teas that mimic the flavor profiles of classic desserts without the calories; honey teas that contain real organic honey inside the teabag that dissolves out into the cup as it’s infused; tulsi “holy basil” teas; rooibos-based red teas; holiday teas inspired by the season but available year-round; decaffeinated teas, chai; and traditional favorites – the Darjeeling, Ceylon and Irish Breakfast teas. They’re available in tea bags, as loose leaf tea and as brew bags designed for iced tea.
“The brand’s new packaging is designed to stand out on the shelf and portray the products’ clean-label health benefits, company story, key certifications and simple ingredients that are easily and quickly assimilated to influence buying decisions,” Patel said. “The consumer has very little time to analyze a product,” he said. “To engender loyalty you need something more than just price.”
The celebration continues with a new line of tea jellies, the first of their kind on the market. The tea jellies are made by infusing real tea leaves, grown by the farmer cooperative of third-generation tea farmers in the Darjeeling region of India who grow the company’s other tea products. Pectin and cane sugar are then added to make the jelly. The jellies come in four flavors that reflect the four best-selling Davidson’s Organics teas: Earl Grey, White Pomegranate, Classic Chai and Coconut Vanilla.
“The jellies reflect the true flavors of the tea blend,” Patel said. “There are a lot of jellies out there. There’s no other real tea jelly that’s made out of infused organic tea.”
The Earl Grey Tea Jelly pairs very well with meat or cheeses, according to Patel. “It’s a wonderful addition to any backyard barbecue or dinner,” he said. “It makes a perfect combination of salty and sweet at the same time.” Consumers would use the Chai Tea Jelly as they might use a pumpkin butter in a holiday feast – as a complement to bread or cheeses. White Pomegranate Tea Jelly is a tart and fruity spread that pairs well in spring-time treats, and the Coconut Vanilla Tea Jelly is perfect as an addition to scones or croissants.
Following along with the thought that tea need not be just for drinking, Davidson’s Organics is also introducing a new line of specialty tea chocolates made with certified organic dark cacao chocolate sprinkled with loose leaf tea, molded into bars, and then sprinkled with more tea. The chocolate comes from a cooperative of 400 third-generation cacao farmers from the Esmeraldas region of Ecuador.
“It’s a perfect marriage and celebration of three generations of organic agriculture,” Patel said. He noted that although there are cultural differences between the two groups of farmers – the tea growers in India and the cacao growers in Ecuador —the partnership has benefited from a shared respect for each other’s agricultural tradition.
The 70g bars are 65 percent dark chocolate in three flavors: Earl Grey Lavender, Classic Chai and Coconut Vanilla. They retail for about $6.99.
For nearly 50 years, the Celestial Seasonings® brand has brought the magic of tea to people around the world with its unique packaging. Celestial Seasonings is now returning to its iconic artful packaging in response to consumer demand. Celestial Seasonings is also launching five new flavors and re-releasing a fan favorite.
“Last fall, we introduced refreshed packaging intended to modernize our look while maintaining our Celestial Seasonings heritage. Our passionate fans made it clear that our refreshed look was missing some of that special Celestial Seasonings magic,” said Irwin D. Simon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hain Celestial. “We’ve listened to our consumers and are excited to return to our classic, imaginative package design they feel passionate about, which has made Celestial Seasonings the leading specialty tea brand since 1969 and a key part of the Hain Celestial portfolio since 2000.”
In addition to reintroducing the iconic classic packaging, Celestial Seasonings has launched five delicious new varieties to its herbal and green tea portfolios. The new flavors include:
Also due to consumer demand, the brand is re-releasing its popular Almond Sunset™ Herbal Tea. Available exclusively online, this treasured Celestial Seasonings tea is a toasty blend of roasted carob and barley enhanced with rich and mellow almond flavor, orange peel and a hint of sweet cinnamon. This beloved tea and the five new varieties are now shipping.
By Greg Gonzales
Tea markets are growing, and growth won’t be slowing down any time soon, thanks to a multi-generational boost. The U.S. tea market has grown 15 times its size since 2009 and was worth $10.8 billion in 2014, according to the Tea Association of the USA’s “2014 State of the Industry” report. Loose-leaf tea in particular has gained popularity as a specialty product, hydration alternative and health product, while ready-to-drink tea has seen similar success on supermarket shelves. The report also said that tea is the second-most consumed beverage in the world, after water.
The same Tea Association of the USA report, compiled by Tea Association President Peter Goggi, cited Millennials as the major demographic driving market growth. “Several aspects of the market are driving Millennial interest in tea,” Goggi said. “The access to tea has been easier and much more common for them; they’ve grown up drinking tea, as preteens, and they also gravitate toward products that appeal to them. Tea fits in because Millennials want to be engaged with the products they buy — where it comes from, how it’s made, its naturalness — tea fits into this beautifully because it comes from different countries and it’s an agricultural product, so Millennials can get involved.”
He added that Baby Boomers have gotten involved in the conversation, too, and are increasingly joining the public discourse with Millennials.
Topics to share include the teas’ origins, and how different processing yields different kinds of tea. Pu-erh tea, for example, is aged and pressed into cakes, making an extremely dark brew that exclusively contains the cholesterol-lowering compound, lovastatin. Specialty teas use the best leaves, while low-grade teas consist of fannings, or what amounts to dust left over from processing high-grade leaves. Farms throughout the world employ their own growing techniques, which also yields a different product. Enthusiasts can learn nearly everything about the origins of a specialty tea, and share their preferences through endless social networks, online and offline.
Entrepreneurs and tea chains across the globe are taking notice of this trend. While large tea exporters like Zhejiang Tea Group have expanded more into U.S. markets, small tea businesses in North America are beginning to flourish as they adapt to the growth. “With everyone on social media to distribute content for social reward, tea is the budding connoisseur’s dream,” said Stuart Lown, National Sales Manager of Takeya USA. “There’s so much to learn about tea, fresh fruit and herbs — so much to learn about healthy hydration, to share with friends and family.”
Takeya specializes in tea infusers and pitchers that simplify home brewing and improve the flavor of the tea. One of their products, the fruit infuser, allows consumers to add new flavors outside the tea itself. By providing an easy method for making homemade iced tea, Lown said, Takeya makes quality tea more accessible to the everyday consumer.
“We specialize in bringing loose-leaf tea home, allowing consumers to quickly and easily brew premium teas and to chill those quickly, which allows people to get the health benefits from the tea,” said Lown. “When you brew the tea with a Takeya system, which is an airtight chamber, you’re getting the best taste and nutrient content.”
The airtight Takeya system ensures precious nutrients and flavors don’t evaporate with some of the water before the tea cools — and those nutrients are key to tea’s growth. “Over the last decade, several thousand articles have been written about the healthfulness and important phytochemicals and antioxidants that improve human health,” Goggi said, adding that the public has grown increasingly aware of these studies.
Cleansing, lower cholesterol, heart function and mental acuity are some of the natural benefits of tea drinking. Flavonoids, a compound produced by tea plants, are thought to have antioxidant properties and help neutralize free radicals. Tea also has no sodium, no fat, no carbonation and is sugar-free. It’s also calorie-free and provides hydration — and some studies have shown that tea drinking improves cardiovascular health. A Harvard study found that individuals drinking one or more cups of black tea per day have a 44 percent reduced risk for heart attack. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study showed that a low-fat diet combined with five cups of tea per day reduced LDL cholesterol by 11 percent, after three weeks. Also shown in the studies is that drinking black tea reduces blood pressure and helps blood flow after a high-fat meal, and tea also carries with it a reduced risk for rectal cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer.
Along with health benefits, tea naturally boosts cognition. While antioxidants in tea protect brain cells from free radicals, another compound found in tea, L-theanine, along with caffeine, is known to enhance attention and complex problem solving.
Still, not all tea drinkers are seeking a mental boost, and not all of them are interested in learning about tea beyond the basics. “Seventy-eight percent of consumers drink tea for the taste, and 50 percent drink it for the function,” said Patrick Tannous, President and Co-Founder of Tiesta Tea. “We take the basic functionality of the tea and educate the consumer. We aim to make tea accessible, understandable and affordable.”
Tiesta Tea’s approach is to educate the consumer about how to make the best tea, rather than about the tea’s journey from the farm to cup. On the company website, the owners drive this point home: “Does it really matter to you which farm in China produces the best green tea in February or how to correctly pronounce rooibos? (it’s ROY-bos, if you care.) That’s our job to do, not yours. We believe what matters is what your tea tastes like and what’s it’s going to do for you. We take care of the nitty-gritty details.”
Ready-to-drink tea also has made tea more available and visible to consumers. Some markets dedicate an entire shelf section to kombucha alone, increasing tea’s visibility, while other varieties of tea can be found all over stores, rather than in one single beverage area. Goggi wrote in his 2014 report that ready-to-drink tea is expected to continue rising in popularity, with annual dollar increases from 12 to 15 percent.
There are a lot of factors driving tea growth, from public knowledge of specialty tea to Starbucks buying the Teavana chain. As Millennials age, their interest in tea is expected to continue and get passed down to the next generation. This growth will keep the market growing for years to come. After all, tea is inexpensive, simple and accessible.
“It’s something anyone can do, and it’s something all people can enjoy,” said Lown. “Tea is not exclusive to a certain class; it’s something everyone can enjoy, no matter your diet, your religion, your age or your income.”
For the first time in the history of coffee, there’s a packaging that will preserve the cold-brewed beverage without refrigeration. Coffee concentrate packaged in a bag-on-valve system is shelf-stable for three years or more and comes out of the can with the same taste and aroma it had when it was freshly brewed, according to BOV Solutions Founder and CEO Paul Hertensen.
“The packaging is specifically designed for today’s cold coffee drinks,” he said. “It looks like an aerosol can, but it’s not aerosol. This is a pure, natural coffee product with nothing added. There are no preservatives. No refrigeration is required.”
BOV Solutions has partnered with the world’s largest coffee-brewing company, which is making the coffee concentrates that are packaged inside the BOV Solutions’ bag-on-valve cans. The coffee concentrate itself is enclosed inside a bag so that it’s in an oxygen-free environment and is never touched by propellants. Then the can is pressurized outside the bag, and that pressure provides the force that propels the coffee concentrate out of the can when the valve is opened. The can is made from 100 percent fully recyclable aluminum, so there’s no landfill impact, and shelf-stability tests have shown no change in the coffee after three years without refrigeration. “The flavor is still there; the aromas, still there. It’s exactly the way it was when it was put into the can,” Hertensen said.
Flavor stays the same because the sealed bag protects the coffee from the oxidation that changes the flavor of coffee as it sits in an open container. “Our coffee tastes the same from the first cup to the last cup with no changes whatsoever,” Hertensen said.
All the consumer has to do to prepare the beverage is to dispense a quarter of an ounce of the coffee concentrate into hot or cold water. “You absolutely need no equipment whatsoever. All you need is hot water or cold water or milk, whatever you use to make your coffee drink,” Hertensen said. The coffee concentrate can also be used as a flavoring ingredient for foods like ice creams or baked goods. “It has no bitterness,” Hertensen added. “All the bitterness has been removed.”
The same technology can also be used to package tea concentrates. At-home preparation for those also requires just the dispensing of a quarter of an ounce of the concentrate into a glass of ice water or a cup of hot water. “Tea is also a cold-brewed process,” Hertensen said. “We get the pure flavor of the tea.”
The technology has patents pending around the world, Hertensen says. “What we actually patented was the ability to put a coffee or tea concentrate into a bag on valve. We also patented putting the bag-on-valve into a dispensing system.”
“This is the most exciting product I’ve ever had my fingers on by far,” he added. “People are dying for us to get it onto the market.”
BOV Solutions’ profits from sales of the coffee and tea packaging will be donated to a new veteran’s organization that’s providing an outdoor recreational retreat area for disabled veterans and first responders. “It’s a good cause. There are organizations helping these veterans get mobile, but there’s no place they can go to enjoy outdoor sports that has equipment modified for them,” Hertensen said. “It’ll be totally free of charge to the veterans. This is drastically needed for those who serve and protect us and have been disabled doing so. It’s a marvelous thing because it will help them feel whole again.”
The recreational facility will also be available to firefighters, police officers and other first responders who have become disabled through the performance of their duty as public servants, Hertensen said. “It’s a great organization.”
Affinity Beverage Group, Inc., a publicly traded company, announced that it has acquired a majority interest in Village Tea Company Distribution, Inc. Village Tea, headquartered in National Harbor, Maryland, is the owner of the Village Tea Company brand of premium loose leaf teas and tea accessories. Village Tea Company sources high-quality, unique teas that are blended to create distinct flavor combinations which are packaged in a variety of creative and earth-friendly ways for wholesale and retail sales. The brand has been sold in several major retailers in North America including Vitamin Shoppe®, Whole Foods® Markets, Winners®, HomeSense®, Akins/Chamberlin® Natural Foods Markets and many other independent specialty and grocery store retailers. Village Tea Company products are also available through e-commerce retailers such as Amazon, the company’s own website, www.villageteaco.com and other online retailers. Village Tea Company also recently acquired distribution rights for Pura Organic Agave sweeteners, which will be available at select U.S. retailers in the coming weeks.
Affinity CEO Janon Costley will remain in his role as CEO of Village Tea Company Distribution, Inc., while Affinity advisory board member and Village Tea Company founder, Martin Ekechukwu will continue in his role as Brand Manager and President. “Acquiring Village Tea Company was at the forefront of our thought process when we decided to build a health and wellness lifestyle brand building and acquisition platform with Affinity Beverage Group. We have learned some important lessons over the past couple of years while trying to find the proper platform to grow Village Tea Company, so it was extremely important to us that we put the company into the best situation that would allow us to have full control of our strategic growth strategy that will enable us to maximize the tremendous potential of the brand and its distribution platform. We feel that Village Tea Company is poised for exponential growth over the course of the next several years, and Affinity gives us the best opportunity to fulfill those expectations,” Costley said.
With the increased emphasis on health and wellness in the U.S. tea market, the $6 billion global tea industry has seen exponential growth over the past five years with the ever-increasing popularity of gourmet and boutique tea brands and retail outlets accounting for nearly 35 percent of the global tea market, the Village Tea Company is properly positioned for exponential growth over the course of the next several years. Over the past year, Village Tea Company has created a platform that will enable it to increase its sales footprint in existing channels of distribution in health and wellness specialty and grocery stores and e-commerce but also to increase its presence in mainstream grocery, clubs, mass and drug store chains as well as into hospitality, food service and restaurants.
Village Tea Company is no longer just about tea, as it is also using its unique positioning in the marketplace to create a distribution platform to introduce other complementary health and wellness lifestyle brands and products. As it looks toward the future, the company will continue to seek opportunities to leverage its product development team and distribution experience as well as the resources of its trade partners to explore various brand extension opportunities into new categories such as tea accessories, K-cups, various tea based products, retail, co-branded tea infused nutritional beverages and strategic distribution opportunities.
Celestial Seasonings®, a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., has unveiled its fresh new brand look and feel–including refreshed tea packaging that highlights the brand’s heritage and a new, contemporary logo.
“We’re excited to introduce our refreshed packaging to consumers since we think the new boxes are an even better reflection of the Celestial Seasonings® goodness inside,” said Tom Arcuri, vice president of sales and marketing at Celestial Seasonings, Inc. “We kept the elements that our consumers loved from our previous boxes and built upon them to appeal to an even wider audience.”
The refreshed packaging blends many of the heritage elements for which the brand is known–including commissioned tea box art featuring iconic characters like Sleepytime® Bear–with a contemporary design. Consumers will find the same high-quality teas inside–the brand has not changed any of its recipes and continues to source its ingredients and blend its teas according to its strict “Blended With Care: From Seed to Sip” standard for purity and quality.
Celestial Seasonings maintains its strong belief in social responsibility, so its refreshed packaging will continue to feature an earth-friendly design. The brand’s cartons are still biodegradable and recyclable, and its signature tea bag omits strings, staples and individual wrappers–saving 3.5 million pounds of material from landfills every year.
The first Celestial Seasonings teas in refreshed packaging are available on store shelves now, with the full new shelf set expected to be in place by the fall. All items will also available at the Celestial Seasonings Online Store.
Aiya America has taken first place in the annual Iced Tea Competition held by the North American Tea Championship (NATC) for its Matcha to Go single serving sticks. Aiya’s Matcha to Go placed first under the instant unflavored green tea category.
The NATC Iced Tea Competition evaluates premium tea entries from all over North America, under numerous categories. Each tea is blindly evaluated by world renowned tea connoisseurs and rated using a point scale for flavor, aroma, mouth feel, brewed harmony and other characteristics.
Matcha to Go single serving sticks blend ultra-fine matcha powder with dietary fiber for a smooth, creamy, delicious and healthful beverage in just seconds. It requires no sifting or whisking, and eliminates the clumping that may be associated with other matcha tea products. Simply pour Matcha to Go into a cold water bottle and shake for a refreshing iced matcha drink, or stir into hot water for an invigorating matcha tea.
Matcha to Go contains 10 sticks in each box and retails for $18.80. To purchase Matcha to Go or to learn about all of Aiya’s offerings, visit www.aiyamatcha.com.
Matcha LOVE CULINARY MATCHA from ITO EN was named as “Best New Product-Tea as an Ingredient” at the recent World Tea Expo 2015 held in Long Beach, California. “We are greatly honored with this award as we invite more aspiring cooks to explore the purity and vitality of the entire green tea leaf,” says Rona Tison, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations for ITO-EN. “The fresh balance of sweetness and herbaceous grassiness is a taste profile and sensation like no other.”
Fast becoming a popular ingredient for its rich umami taste and antioxidant rich benefits, Matcha LOVE’s CULINARY MATCHA is a finely milled green tea powder, traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, made from premium quality whole tea leaves. Today a versatile ingredient used for baking or cooking both sweet and savory dishes is also a favorite in smoothies and super drinks.
Celebrated for its powerful EGCG tea antioxidants and Vitamin C, matcha is considered and natural energy boost. Matcha generates new layers of amplified flavors with a sweet lingering taste sensation. Bold and rich in flavor with an herbaceous finish, a little matcha goes along way. The new CULINARY MATCHA joins the Matcha LOVE’s® line of ceremonial matcha powder, teabags and convenient on-the-go Matcha drinks, available in unsweetened and sweetened. Taking a modern take on an ancient ritual, the innovative Matcha LOVE line is making its way into the urban lifestyle.
Owl’s Brew, the tea crafted for cocktails, has added a fourth flavor to its growing lineup of premium tea-based mixers. White and Vine, the brand’s first white tea-based product, expertly blends fine white tea with all-natural watermelon, pomegranate, and lemon peel, for a tart and refreshing taste. As with every Owl’s Brew variety, White and Vine is versatile and can be poured with a range of spirits, beer, wine, and champagne, to create a range of effortless craft cocktails with sophisticated taste profiles, and refreshingly modest calorie counts. White and Vine pairs ideally with tequila or gin.
White and Vine is available now on Owl’s Brew’s website and from select online retailers such as Craft & Caro, Goldbely, Food52 and Brit & Co, and will soon be found at specialty food grocers, supermarkets, home and wine and spirits retailers throughout the U.S.
“White and Vine’s white tea profile makes the perfect addition to the current Owl’s Brew line—and is a delicious base for summer cocktails,” said Jennie Ripps, Founder and CEO of Owl’s Brew. “We’re thrilled to be continuing to innovate and introducing new twists on the at-home cocktail through our crafted-for-cocktails tea blends.”
Owl’s Brew’s three original flavors include Coco-Lada, sweet with a spicy kick, rounded out by coconut and sweetened with natural agave; Pink & Black, a robust darjeeling, with a hint of hibiscus, sweetened with agave; and The Classic, English breakfast with a tart twist, sweetened with agave, with each serving 20 – 40 calories. All four flavors are available in both 8-ounce and 32-ounce sizes.
Owl’s Brew’s light flavor profile allows it to complement a wide range of spirits, and each of its flavors can be combined with multiple liquors, such as vodka, bourbon, tequila or even beer. The tea is fresh-brewed in micro-batches. Owl’s Brew is currently available at leading national retailers including BevMo!, Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Williams-Sonoma, and West Elm.