BevNET TV: Harmless Harvest Launches Innovative “Raw” Tea

It was nearly two years ago when Harmless Harvest launched a first-of-its-kind “raw” and organic coconut water, in which the company utilized high pressure processing (HPP), instead of pasteurization, as a means of delivering not only a safe product, but one that retained the flavor profile and nutrients of the liquid closer to its original form. The beverage won rave reviews and a fervent following among health and wellness consumers, and, today, Harmless Harvest has once again turned to HPP to launch an innovative line of organic, cold-brewed tea drinks.

Launched at the recently held 2013 Natural Products Expo West show, Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Tea is less of a complementary product to the category as much as it is a re-imagining of what a tea drink can look and taste like.

Beginning with Hawaiian-grown organic tea leaves, the product goes through a rather complex process to reach its final form. While most other tea products are made with dried or dehydrated leaves, Harmless quickly freezes its raw leaves following harvest as a way to retain as much of their original flavor as possible. The leaves are then pulverized, blended with water, and cold brewed. The process is completed with the liquid run through an HPP machine, which along with making the product safe to drink, has a secondary function: the pressurized processing ruptures the cell membranes of the plant leaves, which releases additional oils and extracts.

“Our idea about launching new products is to try and add some innovation to the category, and try to focus on the quality of the ingredient, and we saw an opportunity in the tea category,” Harmless Harvest co-founder Justin Guilbert said. “There are a lot of products out there, but there was a lot of opportunity to really reveal what the taste of raw tea is.”

Guilbert said that while the company sourced leaves from Hawaii for its first production run, Harmless will also source tea leaves from Japan, depending on market availability. And despite what appears to be a cost-intensive process, the tea, which comes in three varieties – unsweetened, honey-sweetened, and peppermint – has a suggested retail price of around $1.99 for a 10 oz. bottle.

In this video, filmed at Harmless Harvest’s palm tree-lined booth at Expo West, Guilbert and co-founder Douglas Riboud spoke with BevNET founder and CEO John Craven about the new tea products and the genesis of the line. Guilbert and Riboud also discussed how the growth and popularity of its coconut water has enabled the company to reach a critical mass in terms of greater investment in sourcing lines and assisting coconut farmers to achieve organic certification.