Bethesda, MD — There was a time when consumers felt comfortable washing their fruits and vegetables to rid them of pesticides used in conventional (non-organic) farming. But with growth hormones used in dairy, fear of mad cow disease in meats and other food uncertainties, consumers are turning more and more to organic foods, those produced without the use of toxic and persistent chemicals. Honest Tea, the nation’s leading organic bottled tea brand, has just achieved full USDA organic certification for its entire line of tea bottles and bags — the first and only in the industry with this distinction.
In going through the certification process, the company learned what many consumers don’t yet know about conventionally grown tea – that pesticides aren’t scrubbed off. “Tea bushes from conventionally (non-organic) farmed tea estates are sprayed heavily with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that remain in the soil and on the leaves through the brewing process, and end up in the bottle or teacup,” said Anupa Mueller, representative of Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India, one of Honest Tea’s suppliers. At Makaibari, the leaves are grown organically as well as bio-dynamically, a system designed to heal and improve the soil. Honest Tea’s line of 20 varieties in bottles and bags now offer peace of mind to consumers looking for organic leaves and herbs that are both delicious and free of toxic and persistent pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals.
“We are excited about what complete organic certification means for our customers and for our company,” said Seth Goldman, co-founder and Tea-EO “Going through the certification process enabled us to refine and improve the entire line,” he added. Moroccan Mint is one of those teas that were improved through the organic reformulation process. It is now the bestselling bottled tea in the natural foods industry according to SPINSscan (July 2003).
There are myths and facts about organic that Goldman experienced personally during this process. One myth is that conversion means swapping organic ingredients for non- organic ingredients. When tackling Black Forest Berry, one of Honest Tea’s top-sellers, Goldman and co-founder Barry Nalebuff had to start from scratch and ended up adding new ingredients, such as organic blueberries.” The new organic Black Forest Berry is now, according to Goldman and consumer taste testers, “a cleaner, fresher tasting tea” that became greatly improved over the non-organic version.
In addition to Honest Tea’s new organic certification, some of their teas such as Moroccan Mint and Green Dragon Tea were found to have the highest level of the key antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) of any bottled tea in the United States. (New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program at Rutgers University). EGCG has been shown in many recent clinical studies including those of the American Institute for Cancer Research to be effective in reducing risk for many cancers. For details about these studies and the health benefits of green tea, see aicr.org/research/.
Honest Tea worked with its suppliers in India, China, South Africa, and Central America to complete its shift toward organics. Despite the shift to more selective ingredients, Honest Tea plans to maintain its current price points. “We believe that our product line, and organics more broadly, need to remain competitive with conventional items. We want our teas to be an affordable, healthy indulgence,” said Honest Tea co-founder and Chairman Barry Nalebuff.
Honest Tea is the nation’s best-selling and fastest-growing organic bottled tea company whose mission is to make tea the way civilizations have for centuries – real tea, real taste and barely sweetened with only 1/3 or less of the sugar and calories of bottled tea competitors. The company was recently ranked #117 in Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States. It has enjoyed continued growth in 2003 as a result of two new teas introduced this year, Peach Oo-La-Long, the first Fair Trade bottled tea, and Green Dragon Tea. Their products include whole leaf tea bags and bottled tea in twenty varieties. For more information about the company and their products, visit www.honesttea.com
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