Sunday, November 20, 2005

Honest Tea on my Mind

The DCFUD story on Sette Bello, sibling of Georgetown's posh Cafe Milano, reminded me of another creative mind plus university professor relationship. The intellectual bosom buddies of Honest Tea-- founder and CEO Seth Goldman and his Yale professor, and co-founder, Barry Nalebuff.

I worked for the company last summer (or should I say, frequently used their bathroom after drinking so much free tea), handing out bottles to Whole Foods baggers at natural food trade shows, I-Love-NY t-shirt-wearing tourists in Times Square, a Food and Wine senior editor at the Fancy Food Show in Manhattan and convenience store owners in Richmond who had no interest in selling "that organic shit."

Taken straight from their website...
Seth found most drinks either too sweet or too tasteless. Barry Nalebuff, one of Seth's business school professors, found that he and Seth shared a passion for the idea of a less sweet, but flavorful beverage during a class discussion that involved a Coke vs. Pepsi case study. Fast forward to '97, Seth goes for a run in New York City with an old classmate who used to concoct juice drinks with him after class. They found themselves doing the same after the run, combining several different beverages to cut the sweet and intensify the flavor. Seth knew then that if he was going to quench his thirst for good, he would have to create the drink himself. He e-mailed Barry to see if he was still as excited about the idea as he had been in class.

Timing was everything. Barry had just returned from India where he had been analyzing the tea industry for a case study. Seth took a deep breath, quit his job at the Calvert Group, and started brewing batches of tea in his kitchen. Five weeks after taking the plunge, he brought thermoses of tea and a bottle with a mock-up label to Fresh Fields (Whole Foods Markets). During that meeting, the order came for 15,000 bottles, and so did the heavy pause as Seth's mind raced, trying to figure out how they would produce that much tea. They were, at
that moment, in the tea business. Honest.

My marketing skills must have done some damage this summer because this weekend, I ate at two places that carried the organic heartthrob:

Elevation Burger :442 S. Washington St., Falls Church VA. Read this by Tarting it Up.

Sticky Fingers Bakery
:1904 18th St., Washington DC. Read this review by the Post from last December.

More to come on both later. Elevation was absolute bliss in a bun. Despite the inconvenient location for an urban student, I might just have to trek to East Falls Church and take the mile-long Metro bus ride from the station on a regular basis. And by regular basis, I mean all the time. That burger hit the spot like no other has in a long time. And incredibly cheap! Less than three bucks.

Sticky was closing at 6pm on Saturday. At about 6:07pm, my friends and I were running across the street, almost getting hit by a car, and at 6:08pm, begging to be let inside. After gaining access, Sticky became my favorite vegan bakery of the moment. The Honest Tea sitting quietly in the fridge was just an added perk.

I invited Seth to speak at Georgetown last week, where he revealed some juicy (or should I say tea-y) gossip.

Honest Tea will release a "Just Green Tea" line which will have little or no sugar, and use the term "just" to play off the "honest" pun.

Despite public chatter surrounding the plastic line released earlier this year, they are not discontinuing the glass, nor have they ever considered the bogus plan. Insert phew here.

Final thought, even Whoopi rocks the Honest Tea.

On Martha Stewart's new morning show, Martha, Whoopi talked about regularly serving it at her poker and board game parties.

Sold? Now drinking Community Green like it's your job? Send Honest Tea a picture of yourself drinking it in a famous, unique, creative, spunky environment. The most compelling submission will be featured in the next Honest News and win an Honest Tea gift basket. Email entries to by Dec. 10th.


At 7:21 AM, Blogger DC Food Blog said...

Sticky Fingers is like the anti-matter universe version of Cakelove. You have to eat their stuff right away because it gets stale in about half an hour.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger the kitchenette said...

Maybe that's why they have Honest Tea conveniently ready to lube the pastries down the hatchet.

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