By now, the buzz about high pressure processing (HPP) has spread throughout beverage industry, and while it’s unclear if most understand the technical aspects of HPP, those who have consumed an HPP beverage are often certain about one thing: the product offers an extremely high level of freshness and flavor. Although the use of HPP has been limited to a handful of beverages in the juice and coconut water categories, the processing method — which uses pressure instead of heat to make a raw product safe to consume — has for the first time been employed in a tea drink. And, unsurprisingly, it’s the restless folks at Harmless Harvest, which helped pioneer the use of HPP in beverages, who are behind it.
Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Tea, which was first introduced at the 2013 Natural Products Expo West show, is made using raw organic tea leaves from Japan. The leaves are quickly flash frozen upon harvesting and then pulverized and cold-brewed, a process quite dissimilar from common tea products which brew dried tea leaves in hot water. The beverage is then packaged in a 10 oz. plastic bottle and high pressure processed. The complex process results in a taste and flavor and freshness that are unique within the tea category.
Since the introduction of the brand, Harmless Harvest has revamped the packaging for the products, which now feature a green label and colored caps to differentiate between the three varieties: Unsweetened, Peppermint and Honey & Lemon. The company recently launched the tea as an exclusive at Whole Foods, a critical retail partner for Harmless Harvest.
In a recent interview at Harmless Harvest headquarters in San Francisco, co-founders Justin Guilbert and Douglas Riboud sat down with BevNET CEO John Craven to discuss the roll-out and why the company looked to the tea category as a target for innovation.
“The product, we believe, is an interesting new take on tea as a plant,” Guilbert said. “Basically, [it's] considering tea in its raw state and really offering a new perspective on what this incredible plant can offer, from a flavor side, but also from a functional and nutritional benefit side. We’re driven by the opportunities to innovate and act as a proof of concept in categories that are a bit more commoditized or standardized.”
In this video Guilbert and Riboud offer more details on the development of the new tea line and working with Whole Foods to get the products to market. The Harmless Harvest co-founders also speak about how the company plans to market the line and where the products will be shelved in relation to other tea drinks. Finally Guilbert and Riboud discuss the notion of “raw” as a means of differentiation and how the growth of the Harmless Harvest brand has attracted significant interest from investors, and why they keep turning them down.