Review: Sunshine Bottle Works Yerba Mate
Covers Products: Berry, Mint, Peach, Unsweetened
Based in California’s central coast, craft soda maker Sunshine Bottle Works introduced its second ready-to-drink product last March: a line of USDA Organic yerba mate fortified with organic beet root, sea buckthorn, barley grass and goji berries.
The product, which is labeled as a supplement, comes in 16 oz. glass bottles in four varieties: Unsweetened, Berry, Peach and Mint. Aside from the added herbal ingredients listed above, the product is a straightforward blend of yerba mate, cane sugar, natural flavor and citric acid.
The sugar sweetened varieties have 95 calories and 24 grams of sugar per bottle, while the unsweetened has 5 calories and zero sugar.. All of the products have 160 mg of caffeine from the yerba mate.
Much like the ingredients list, straightforward is a good way to describe the flavors. Sunshine Bottle Works uses classic iced tea flavors such as peach, berry and mint, which, when paired with sugar, taste a lot like your classic bottle of sweetened iced tea. Perhaps the only difference is some mild earthy and grassy notes from the mate.
While these products have very drinkable and mainstream flavor profiles that any consumer of RTD sugar-sweetened iced tea should be able to enjoy, they don’t exactly offer anything overly new or innovative when it comes to the liquid -- aside from the added herbal ingredients. But we question whether or not this is something consumers will care about.
This thought continued when we examined the packaging. The 16 oz. glass bottle, which uses a white label and a stock gold cap, is also a bit of a throwback. The label layout is simple and easy to read, with a hierarchy of elements that starts with the Sunshine Bottle Works logo at the top and the flavor at the bottom. While it’s not the most flashy looking product (or logo), it’s definitely one that consumers can figure out quickly.
However, we think labeling an RTD tea as a supplement is a mistake that might turn off some consumers. We’d strongly suggest reconsidering this approach; It makes a simple and relatively innocuous (aside from the high level of caffeine) product feel serious and require examination. From our perspective, the added herbal ingredients simply don’t add enough benefit, nor will they be the hook to lure in consumers. Eliminating the supplement facts panel (as well as the cost of these ingredients) would probably be a good thing.
Assessing the company’s entry into the RTD yerba mate market, we think that Sunshine Bottle Works needs to do a bit more to stack up against its main competition, Guayaki, which has both flashier packaging and a much more refined value proposition. Right now, we’d be hard pressed to identify a reason to purchase Sunshine Bottle Works instead.