Review: Special Leaf Olive Leaf Tea
Covers Products: Sweet Side - Artisanal Olive Leaf Tea 2020, When Life Gives You Lemons - Lemon Verbena 2020
Special Leaf is a new line of herbal tea beverages that are made with leaves from olive trees. The company is launching with two flavors, Sweet Side and When Life Gives You Lemons.
So why make tea from olive leaves? According to the company’s web site, the founder, who was a professional chef for many years, started consuming olive leaf tea as a treatment for arthritis.
The olive leaf contains oleuropein (which is also found in olive oil) as well as high vitamin C content, although neither of these is indicated on the drink’s nutrition facts panel.
Moving on to the taste, both of these are tasty, although they are on the sweeter side of where we think they should be. Both products have a clean list of ingredients, which is always a good start. Sweet Side is made with water, olive leaf, palm sugar and lemon juice, while When Life Gives You Lemons is made with water, olive leaf, palm sugar, lemon verbena and lemon juice.
The base flavor for both of the drinks is clean and smooth, with a less tannic flavor than what you’ll find from real tea. It’s slightly earthy, but not grassy, and it has a smooth finish. There’s a somewhat familiar flavor, making it the type of product that could have pretty broad appeal.
As for the two SKUs they’ve created, they are somewhat similar with a few nuanced differences. Both are sweetened with 17 grams of added palm sugar and both contain lemon juice (although we’re not sure if they both contain the same amount, since juice content is not disclosed). When Life Gives You Lemons also contains lemon verbena, an herbal ingredient, which gives it a slightly floral note.
Ultimately, both are very nice tasting, but we think there should be a bit more variety between the two.
On the outside, the product uses a 12 ounce glass condiment bottle with a label around the lower portion of the bottle. The branding is fine from a cleanliness point of view, but “Special Leaf” is a pretty vague name that we think could speak to almost any type of premium tea or herbal tea. That said, we’d like to see “olive leaf tea” (they can lose “artisanal,” in our opinion) more prominent than it presently is. We’d also suggest being matter of fact with the flavor names -- it’s unlikely that anyone will refer to When Life Gives You Lemons by this name.
Beyond that, Special Leaf faces a similar challenge to many startups: they need to build a connection with the consumer. We think there’s some good stuff here, both in the flavor and the story of olive leaf tea, but they need to do a better job creating a brand that will entice and engage the consumer. Otherwise, this product might get lost in the sea of other premium tea offerings.