Review: Sol-ti’s VitaliTea
Covers Products: Arctic Chaga VitaliTea, Dragon Oolong VitaliTea, Hibiscus Flower VitaliTea, Jasmine Pearl VilaliTea, Masala Chai VitaliTea
San Diego-based organic beverage company and former cold-pressed juice maker Sol-ti has recently expanded its product portfolio into a new category: organic ready-to-drink tea. The line, which is marketed as “raw,” is launching in five varieties, all of which utilize the same glass packaging and light filtration (rather than pasteurization) as their cold-pressed juices.
The five flavors include Arctic Chaga, Dragon Oolong, Hibiscus Flower, Jasmine Pearl, and Masala Chai. Each variety is made using a proprietary brewing process that markets the use of reverse osmosis water as a key component. In addition, four of the five flavors are unsweetened and contain zero calories; The fifth, Arctic Chaga, has only 1.5 g of sugar (and 16 calories per bottle) from added maple syrup.
Right off the bat, it’s pretty clear that these flavors, which are nuanced and complex, are aimed at discerning and educated tea drinkers. To that end, Sol-ti has done a superb job of bottling up flavors that are aromatic, fresh tasting, clean, and really well-executed. It would certainly be difficult to knock the liquid that they’ve created -- it’s definitely some of the best bottle tea out there.
The only thing that is slightly confusing is that there is no visual callout for the one sweetened flavor. We feel as though Sol-ti should either balance the lineup with a few other sweetened varieties or go all in on unsweetened,although we are admittedly less enthusiastic about this option from a marketability standpoint.
Much like the liquid, the heavy 15.5 oz. square shaped glass bottle feels super premium. It looks almost identical to the company's previous line of juice products, which also utilized the same bottle and orange cap (the orange label being the addition). We think it uses the Sol-ti brand equity a bit too literally to the point where consumers might view this as a juice product. Lastly, we find it a bit hard to read some of the label copy which uses small type and white font on top of an orange background.
One thing we really do like is that Sol-ti (pronounced “sole-tea”) sounds like a tea brand much more than a juice brand. That said, it seems like adding in “VitaliTea” unnecessarily raises questions about functionality versus just calling it “tea.”
Finally, there’s the overall marketability of the product. In its current form, we feel that the product will have its strongest appeal within the upper end of the premium tea set. While it’s a great tasting product, this seems like a space that’s really hard to gain traction, especially in unsweetened form and at a $3.49 SRP.
Overall, Sol-ti has done a superb job with the liquid; This is certainly some of the best tasting unsweetened RTD tea that we’ve ever had. However, we think that there are a few things that could be done to the label and formulation that would make the opportunity for this product much bigger.