Behind the Bottle

Introducing Radiant Raspberry (and our New Look)!

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Glass Blog SpreadAfter 16 years of continuous growth for our glass bottled teas, we had lots of internal debates about whether we should try to update the line. Even though our beverages are the top-selling bottled tea line in the natural foods channel, we took a deep breath, and decided to challenge ourselves on the ingredients, the label art, and even the impact of the mission.

So consider this your invite to joining us in celebrating a major milestone by transitioning organic sugar in the sweetened teas over to Fair Trade Certified™ organic sugar. It’s a big step in terms of furthering the Honest Tea mission, and the Fair Trade Certified logo now reflects the use of both tea & sugar ingredients in your favorite glass bottled tea. We’ve also joined 1% for the Planet, committing to donate the equivalent of at least one percent of sales from our tea line in 16 oz. glass bottles to organizations within the 1% For the Planet network.

You’ll also notice our “refreshed” look. The answer came in the form of art—specifically, the realism that springs to life in oil paintings.  Our design team collaborated with a creative oil painter who understood both our excitement and hesitations in making this project a reality.  She was tasked with the challenge of artfully communicating our principles—honesty, transparency, whimsy, and ingredients you can feel good about—from concept to reality

Using images of artwork we have around our office from past trips to the tea gardens, the oil painter brought to life the personality of each tea according to its origin and unique story. Each painting was then translated from paint, to canvas, to bottle by our talented in-house graphics team, making sure the final result stayed true to our roots. The new images are centered in the middle of our iconic “T” shape, so you’ll still be able to recognize Honest beverages on store shelves.

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Labels aren’t the only thing new around here, meet brand new Radiant Raspberry! This refreshing iced tea is brewed with organic, Fair Trade Certified™ black tea leaves, raspberry juice, and blackberry leaves for perfect just a tad sweet sipping!  Think ripe raspberries meeting smooth black tea leaves that will keep you basking in the glow of summer all year long. Grab a bottle at your local natural food store or the natural food aisle of your favorite grocery store, and enjoy!

Refresh Your Sole: Win Honest Tea Indosole Shoes!

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IMG_8767You’ve heard of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. What about walking a mile in someone else’s tires? That is the concept behind Indosole, an Indonesia-based company that transforms trashed tires into fashionable footwear. Indonesia faces a very unique environmental problem in that its landfills are overcrowded by motorcycle tires. To combat this problem, Indosole salvages discarded tires, sanitizes them, cuts them to size, and makes them into the soles of shoes. Without any melting down or off-gassing involved, the transformation is an environmentally friendly process that eliminates lots of waste, but also gives it new life.

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Indosole uses locally-sourced materials to create a number of unique shoe designs, including a special edition pair inspired by Honest Tea! Want to make your own honest fashion statement and be part of the pollution solution? Find Honest Tea Indosole shoes now at participating universities, or enter to win your very own pair here.

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Supporting Whole Kids

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WKFImagine a world where children, in search of an after-school snack, reach for sugar snap peas; where carrots are gobbled up with gusto, and peas are eaten with pleasure. While teaching your child healthy eating habits can be a challenge, it’s worth the effort.

Created by Whole Foods in 2011, the Whole Kids Foundation is a charitable organization founded on the belief that, given the right opportunities, children will become excited about eating nutritious foods. The foundation aims to increase access to these healthy opportunities through three school-based programs: Salad Bars in Schools, Garden Grants, and the Healthy Teachers Program. For the next 12 months, Honest Tea has pledged to donate a portion of its sales to the Whole Kids Foundation. This means that any time you purchase an Honest Kids drink at Whole Foods (either pouch or Family Size), a portion of that sale goes directly to support all three of the following programs:IMG_8231

Salad Bars in Schools: In order to make healthy choices, children must first have healthier options available to them. By establishing salad bars in schools, students have the option of fresh fruits and vegetables every day at lunch, all school-year long.

Garden Grants: Healthier eating stems not only from the food put on the plate but also from the knowledge about the food itself. School gardens offer kids the opportunities to learn where their food comes from and to actively participate in the growing and harvesting process. Simply understanding what a tomato is and observing its transition from seed to plant can make children all the more excited about eating the final product in a meal.

Healthy Teachers Program: Teachers are powerful role models for students both inside and outside the classroom. By providing nutrition and cooking classes to educators, the Whole Kids Foundation empowers teachers to become advocates for health and wellness.

IMG_8540So the next time you pick up an Honest Kids beverage, you can feel good not only about what you’re serving your family, but the cause you’re supporting.

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Celebrating Honest Legacies

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Many of the faces of Honest Tea come with years of hard work and dedication to an organic tea company they believe in.  We’ll never sugar-coat it: many of those stories in the early years included plenty of challenges—retailers and distributors didn’t believe a “just a tad sweet” organic bottled tea company could make it, but we stuck to our mission.  Perhaps you too often look back and reflect on what it took to get to where you are today.  Hard work and time are often the key ingredients needed for success. 

Today we celebrate a few “veterans” at Honest Tea who have dedicated years to the Mission, from crafting our beverages, to sales, to design.  We sat down with them to hear more about their journey.    

MikeMeet Michael Petrone, Director of Research and Development a.k.a our very own in-house brew-master.  Mike is often hidden in the kitchen at HQ, brewing up samples of a new exotic, organic teas.  If you happen to walk by he’ll ask you to taste his latest drink!   

Honest: Mike—when did you start at Honest Tea?

Mike: 2005. 

Honest: How has your role changed since you started?

Mike: When I started at Honest Tea as an operations intern we were a smaller group, and the scope of my day to day work was much wider.  I really got experience working in nearly every part of the organization.  Now that we are a bit larger my position has become more specialized and I am able to focus more on my passion which is new product development.  Fortunately we still all work closely out of one room in our HQ so I never feel isolated.

Honest: What do you most enjoy about working here?

Mike: I mostly enjoy being a part of something great.  It feels amazing to know we are really making an impact in the beverage industry, and not just a financial one.  It’s rare to find a job that you not only love what you do individually, but that you also love what the organization does as a whole.

Honest: What keeps you committed to Honest Tea after all these years?

Mike: This was my first job out of college and now I’ve been here almost 10 years.  The entire time I have been here there has always been something exciting going on, whether it’s expanding distribution, launching new products, or landing a great customer.  The culture in the office is fast-paced and has never left me wanting more from my job.  I imagine that’s why others stick around too.  Not to mention all the perks like healthy snacks, organic fruit and bikes!  

Honest: In one word, describe your current job.

Mike: Inventive.

Honest:  What’s your six-word memoir for what you do on a daily basis?

Mike: Science & creativity mixed with tasty drinks.

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Meet Mandy Coelho, Graphic Designer.  Mandy is a true example of how sometimes you find the job, and sometimes the job finds you. Often behind a large iMac designing a new label or product refresh, Mandy is the first to crack a joke and bring levity to the room.  In a fast-paced, often tight-turnaround position, a little humor goes a long way. 

Honest: Mandy, when did you start at Honest Tea?

Mandy: 2002.

Honest: How has your role changed since you started?

Mandy: After answering an ad in the newspaper (yes, you read that correctly), and knowing I wanted to work for a company that I believed in, I didn’t care what the job was—I just wanted to work for Honest Tea.  So I started as the office manager with a personal goal to grow into a marketing role.  But my love for design and aesthetics emerged at work, and I managed to talk Seth into letting me do design work in-house (to save money).  I have been doing only graphic design since 2004.  

Honest: What do you most enjoy about working here?

Mandy: The people. The culture. The flexibility. The diverse projects. The product.

Honest: Why do you think Honest Tea has so many employees who have been here longer than five years? 

Mandy: I think employees enjoy the variety that Honest Tea has to offer as well as the culture that it breeds.  No matter what your role at Honest Tea, you end up involved in different aspects of the business.  In addition to the ever-changing hats we all wear, it’s the people that really make the culture.  The passion and energy in the office is why I love coming to work everyday.  I don’t know many people that can say that and truly mean it.

Honest: In one word, describe your current job.

Mandy: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Honest: What’s your six-word memoir for what you do on a daily basis?

Mandy: Daytime designer, full-time mom and wife.

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Meet Cheryl Raff—Natural Sales Manager for the Rocky Mountain Region.  While Cheryl’s based out west, she’s often one of the first to call our East Coast office in the morning.  Her secret to early mornings? Tea.  Cheryl is the kind of person you want to be stuck with on a deserted island—she is fantastically optimistic and if you have any sort of ailment or illness, she’s guaranteed to have a naturopathic remedy.  

Honest: When did you start at Honest Tea, Cheryl?

Cheryl: 2008.

Honest: How has your role changed since you started?:

Cheryl: I still have the same title–I was the first Natural Area Manager for Honest Tea so the position was created for me.  I went from merchandising and daily store calls to working on the natural distributors; managing high-level accounts and other special projects; product training; and teaching other Natural Area Managers about budgets, systems, and various types of leading and training.  Lots and lots of tea-m work!

Honest: What do you most enjoy about working here?

Cheryl: My days are never the same! I have room for growth; I learn new things every day; and I love working with my tea-m.  As we grow as a company, there are always new systems, new adventures and lots of new things to explore.

Honest: Why do you think so many people stick around at Honest Tea?

Cheryl: I feel appreciated, respected, valued and a tea-m member.  While my opinion may not always be the one we go with, it is always taken into account.

Honest: In one word, describe your current job.

Cheryl: Evolving.

Honest: What’s your six-word memoir for what you do on a daily basis? 

Cheryl: Tea-m work and a smile – yeeehaw!

In brewing a culture that inspires years of dedication, it’s clear there’s a recipe needed: relentless passion, continued teamwork and a common vision.  Our thanks to Mike, Mandy and Cheryl, who have made a tremendous effort on behalf of Honest Tea’s Mission every day.

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The Life of a Summer Road Warrior

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What do you think of when you hear the word “college internship?” Perhaps thoughts of fixing the copy machine or delivering the office coffee order come to mind.  Often internships don’t turn out to be as exciting as you hoped.  That couldn’t be further from the truth at Honest Tea.  We thought we’d take the opportunity to give you a behind-the-scenes “peek” at what it takes to be a summer itern (affectionately known as “road warriors”) at Honest Tea. 

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We’re passionate about organic beverages, and we look for that same passion in our students.  Each summer we select 30 college students studying Marketing or Sales from across the country to travel to Honest Tea HQ.  For one week they receive intensive training from our Marketing Tea-m about our Mission, study our beverages, practice a little yoga and even enjoy a tea tasting with our TeaEO.  Oh yeah, and we have a lot of fun too.  After less than one week, they have been steeped in the Honest Tea Mission and excited to spread the word. 

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So why are they called road warriors? Glad you asked.  Our interns spend the most amount of time out in the field during the summer—from waking up at 5:30am to load in for a 5k running event to an evening tastemaker dinner featuring Pomegranate Blue, our Road Warriors act as our eyes and ears to what’s happening across the country, and where we should go next.  There’s hardly a dull moment—but business should be fun, right?  Especially when you’re serving organic refreshment. 

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Road warriors also have first-hand opportunities for sales experience—from learning how to set up a shelf display at a Whole Foods Market or pouring samples during lunch traffic at a Publix, they learn what it takes to interact not only with customers, but how retailers operate, what goes into a store’s sales strategy and the relationships they build.  You could say there’s a quiet sense of pride in all of us when we visit a store and find our beverages on the shelf…this is always followed by some small upkeep to make sure the shelf or display looks its absolute best.  It’s just part of our culture.  

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So if you happen to run across an Honest Tea Road Warrior this summer at the grocery store or a music festival near you, don’t hesitate to say hello.  We’d love to tell you a bit more about our Mission and pour you our favorite iced tea.  To stay up to date with where we’re headed this summer, click here: www.facebook.com/events.  If you’re interested in joining the Honest Tea Mission in summer 2015, send your resume and cover letter to: summerintern@honesttea.com

A Clear Vision of Fair Trade Impact

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The lush tea gardens where we source our freshly brewed tea leaves are a sight to behold. And the men and women who pluck and process each leaf by hand have a keen eye for quality. But if their vision starts to deteriorate over time, a relatively simple solution—eyeglasses—isn’t always within reach.   In addition, sight-impaired villagers can also miss out on economic opportunities that require literacy or attention to detail.

As a company that seeks to have an honest and direct relationship to our ingredients, we strive to build the same connections with our supplier communities.  That’s why we purchase our tea (and some of our sugar) according to fair trade standards. Our fair trade “premiums” support better wages, better working conditions, and help our suppliers invest in their own economic self-sufficiency.

Yet even with fair trade standards in place, a community in a poor region can lack access to quality health services, including eye care. Optometry services are often prohibitively expensive and located hours away from the countryside.

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So Honest Tea and Fair Trade USA joined forces with VisionSpring to launch a special initiative for the 1,300 workers at The Tonganagaon Tea Estate in Assam India.  VisionSpring, is a nonprofit that specializes in bringing affordable glasses and eye care, and supporting entrepreneurs in impoverished countries. While VisionSpring has worked extensively in India, they were eager to launch their first project in Assam, a state in the northeastern part of the country besieged by rising poverty levels and violent political conflict.

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VisionSpring and a regional eye care partner sent a small team in a mobile unit to the estate, dodging clashes between Naxalite insurgents and the Indian Army along the way. Over the course of fifteen days, the specialists screened a total of 5,127 people from villages surrounding the estate. Of that number, 2,400 needed glasses. They were able to select a pair that suited their prescription and tastes on the spot, paid for by Honest Tea. Common eye infections were treated with medicine, while cataract cases were referred to the closest hospital for treatment.

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We were able to leverage the power of mobile technology to measure the impact directly with recipients. Another non-profit partner, Good World Solutions – operating locally on a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – deployed their Labor Link mobile survey platform to poll workers anonymously through their phones. Half of the respondents had never had an eye exam and for almost three-quarters of those who received glasses, it was their first pair. When asked how useful the glasses have been in their daily lives, 95% found them either “very” or “somewhat” useful, and roughly three quarters reported improved productivity at work and at home.

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“Honest Tea has always relied on a network of partners to help us carry out our mission as a company, said Jenny Burns, Honest Tea’s Director of Mission.  “Sometimes we work with other businesses, sometimes with non-profits, and occasionally with government agencies. But we don’t often get the chance to combine the efforts of all three to create meaningful impact for partner communities in need.”

As we evaluate the impact of this experiment, we will ask ourselves if it is worth continuing this type of model; based on the early results, the answer looks crystal clear.

5 Reasons to Love Fair Trade Sugar

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Sometimes it’s just nice to know where your food comes from, and that the people involved are treated fairly and paid a fair wage.

Our enthusiasm for Fair Trade Certified™ tea leaves and herbs goes back to 2003, when we made Peach Oo-La-Long the first Fair Trade Certified bottled tea, and now all of our teas are fair trade. We’re thrilled to incorporate organic, fair trade cane sugar into our new line of Summer Refreshers, available at Whole Foods Market.
To learn more about the source of our fair trade sugar, our co-founder and TeaEO Seth recently traveled to Paraguay to meet farmers who grow organic and fair trade sugar cane. Check out a short video from his trip below; but first, here are 5 reasons we love organic, Fair Trade certified sugar and hope you do too.

1. The cane sugar we source in our Summer Refresher Beverages is both USDA organic and Fair Trade Certified. The fair trade means that when you purchase a lemonade, limeade or Half & Half Lemonade at Whole Foods Market, you are helping fund development projects in communities where fair trade sugar cane is grown. These programs include renovating local schools, increasing access to healthcare or boosting wages.

2. Most sugar farms in Paraguay are small and family-owned. As a result, sugar cane must be processed offsite and within 24 hours of harvesting. Thanks to fair trade premiums, farmers have purchased new equipment which facilitates the ease of transport and boosts overall quality. It has also united farmers, helping them negotiate prices and reach out to more buyers.

3. The C.O.R.A. co-operative we purchase sugar cane from chooses to “green cut” the sugar cane; the stalks are cut by hand, without spraying or burning. The leaves and tops of the sugar cane are left in the field as a nutrient source for soil as well as natural weed control.

4. To control pests, the farmers use natural techniques such as breeding tiny wasps to sting crop-damaging cane worms. The wasps kill the worms by planting their larvae in the worms.

5. Leftover cane (called bagasse) is used to fuel generators that power the mills and surrounding villages.

We hope that when you see “Fair Trade” on the label, you’ll understand there is a closer connection to the components of ecosystem and to the final product. Now that is a just a tad sweet story indeed!