Review: Tea Riot Plant-Powered Energy
Covers Products: Citrus (can), Berry (can) , Mango (can)
Announced in February, Tea Riot Plant-Powered Energy is both a new product and a pivot for the company. Whereas its previous offerings were non-carbonated beverages, this one is carbonated and is packaged in a 16 oz. tallboy can. The line is launching with four flavors: Citrus, Berry, Mango, and Cherry Watermelon (which we did not sample).
So what exactly is a plant-powered energy drink? For Tea Riot, it starts with a base of carbonated tea that’s made with organic green tea, tulsi and spearmint. From there, they’ve added fruit juice (2% to 25% depending on the SKU), which adds both flavor and sweetness (note: there are also natural flavors). There’s no additional sweetener in these drinks, which is nice to see. Lastly, they’ve added green tea extract to boost the caffeine levels, as well as vitamin B12.
The end result is a line that has 25 - 30 calories and 4-7 grams of sugar (per 8 oz. serving), along with 160 mg of caffeine and 100 mg of L-theanine. The product is also labeled as having adaptogens.
Looking at this solely on technical merits, the product is competitive with the energy drink category as far as caffeine content, calories and sugar are concerned. Being USDA Organic and having zero added sugar or sweeteners are pluses, especially in the natural set or with consumers seeking better-for-you alternatives.
As for the taste, what you get is very much a flavored carbonated tea with a little bite to the finish. Our favorite was Citrus, which also has maple water to boost the natural sweetness and features a nice lemon flavor with a hint of ginger that is reminiscent of a classic lemon tea. The Mango and Berry varieties are much more fruit forward and taste a bit sweeter as a result. We prefer Mango over Berry as it has a cleaner fruit flavor (from pineapple and mango) and also a touch of chilli pepper at the finish.
Visually, this is Tea Riot’s best work to date. The glossy black sleeve wrapped cans look slick and have visual pop. What’s nice about these products is that they didn’t really have to do anything to the branding to make it fit in with the energy drink set. The large Tea Riot “bomb” icon makes sense and stands out more so than it has on any of Tea Riot’s previous labels.
Our only constructive feedback on these designs is that we think they went a bit too big with the callout for “100% plant powered energy drink.” We’d like to see the flavor name, which is buried at the bottom and would most certainly be obscured if this product were in a glide rack and as such feels like a visual afterthought. Making this bigger and more prominent would definitely be a good thing to consider.