Co-Founder of HonestTea Announces New Line of Bottled Tea Weeks After Coca Cola Announces it Will Discontinue HonestTea

by MCS Staff

Coca-Cola announced in May that it would be phasing out the HonestTea line from its portfolio. Bethesda resident Seth Goldman co-founded the drink company in 1998 and was its CEO until 2015– when he stepped back and  became executive chairman of Beyond Meat. This morning, however, Goldman stated that he would be re-entering the bottled tea business with the announcement of his new line, Just Ice Tea.

In a series of tweets, Goldman announced the following:

“It’s time to spill the tea on the name for our new line of bottled tea, which will be coming to stores in a few months. The brand name will be: Just Ice Tea. The word “Just” appeals to us for so many reasons. First, Just speaks to a set of working standards that we aspire to support. By committing to Fair Trade Certified™ sourcing we support a third-party inspection system which ensures all our suppliers comply with International Labor Organization standards (including no child or prison labor) and pay the tea pluckers and factory workers a fair wage. In addition, with every pound of ingredients we buy, we pay a premium that goes directly to the workers for them to reinvest in their communities. The workers democratically vote on how the money is spent, empowering the workers, especially the women (who form the majority of tea pluckers), with financial resources and a say in their future. Over the 23 years we have been involved in sourcing teas from around the world, fair trade tea premiums have been used to fund:

· A roof for a village school, creating the opportunity for year-round learning as well as nighttime learning for adults

· Eyecare for an entire village

· Healthcare and water access for an entire village

· A playground and a science classroom for a village school

Just also speaks to our aspiration to respect and support our planet. By making all our varieties certified organic, we commit to a third-party verified approach to avoid the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers. The word root “cide” means killing or destruction (as in homicide). Though regulators often say pesticides and herbicides are safe at diluted levels, we know these compounds, which are designed to kill living organisms, build up in our ecosystem and in our bodies. The ecosystem, tea pluckers, and our consumers are better off with less exposure to them. This is especially true for tea leaves, which are one of the few agricultural products that are never rinsed. If chemicals are sprayed on tea leaves, the first time the compounds get washed off is when hot water is poured on them, and the chemicals get washed into the hot tea. And finally, Just also speaks to the taste and formulation of our drinks. We use recognizable and minimal ingredients in every recipe, and of course nothing artificial. You will taste the essence of the tea, and not much more. And our drinks will be either “Just sweet enough” or “Unsweetened” to accentuate the natural flavor. Of course, Just Ice Tea won’t, and doesn’t claim to, address most of the injustices in the world. But we know the fair trade and organic approach creates better economic opportunities for our partners and less damage to the planet. This is Just Ice Tea. But it’s also so much more.”

In 2008, The Coca-Cola Company took a 40% investment stake in HonestTea before fully acquiring the brand in 2011. Coca-Cola will continue to market and sell the Honest Kids line of beverages. Last month Goldman tweeted, “Today’s announcement by Coca-Cola that they will be discontinuing @HonestTea  is a gut punch to all the sweat, tears, and incredible passion that went into building our beloved brand. My thoughts are with our longtime partners and friends, the #organic and @FairTradeCert farmers who helped develop their communities and protect their ecosystems with the tens of millions of pounds of sugar and spice they sold us.”

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