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Cold Drinks:
Cooling Off with Iced Tea

By Carolina Pichardo

With summer approaching, the heat is on for many consumers to find ways of cooling off, and iced tea is one of the healthiest, refreshing beverages at hand.

Although iced tea has been available and marketed for over 100 years, people are always searching for the newest blends and brews companies present. The options are changing and are trying to incorporate the lifestyles many consumers are choosing today. Health and flavoring are a priority, but also is comfort and flexibility. Companies are structuring their product to suit these needs, whether through promotion and design, or simply by adding their own style to the conventional taste.

Southern-Styled Success
Traditionally, the first iced tea variety was black tea from India, and later on green tea was applied. Companies have continued to develop since then, extending the list of ingredients and experimenting with the methods used to produce it. No longer is it being associated with a pitcher of water, mixed with a variety of tea leaves, and tons of sugar. These days, companies are using a combination of culinary skills, with technology, and a love for the product. Despite these changes, the quality and taste of iced tea beverages continues to satisfy and refresh, and companies have never withdrawn from this essence that makes it so increasingly popular and unique.

Magnolia Spice Teas draws from these distinguishing features to produce their drinks. Founded by Calvita J. Frederick Sowell in 1997, the company began its quest due to the overflowing suggestions from friends and family, advising her to commercialize her “secret recipe.” The drinks are modeled after the Southern-style tradition of iced teas, where the teas were served sweetened and all year round. After months of trying to market the tea using teabags, and bottling companies denying her request, Sowell was finally able to package and distribute her product. Using a selection of gourmet tea leaves, Magnolia Spice Teas offers four different flavors: Autumn Nectar Spice Tea, Nilla-Nade Spice Tea, Southern Style Spice Tea, Unsweetened Spice Tea. The success has escalated since then, with the iced tea being administered to different local stores in Chicago.

This trend has spread beyond what has been expected with more companies contributing their own personal style to the classical, Southern formula. The company Delta Blue Iced Tea, uses a combination of filtered water, pure cane sugar, sensational citrus blends and herbal infusions for their product, and because of this natural selection their clientele tend to be fitness and health buffs. “Most of our customers have a health trend awareness: cyclists, extreme sports, running. Even parents of school aged children, college students, all thereafter,” says founder Leslie Bass. However, their glass bottles have such a stylish and sharp look, it serves perfectly as a hostess gift, or other elegant, memorable occasions. Orders can be placed by calling the main office (1) (847) 482-1106. Although, it’s usually sold to small shops in South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, their reputation has expanded to the point where they are receiving requests from other geographical areas. To that Leslie says, “We welcome all that apply.”

Other Flavors Paving the Way Other companies are experimenting with the marketing and presentation of their product, and there is a large emphasis being placed on being different, yet flavorful. Ito En was created in Japan in 1966 as a loose-leaf canned iced tea that was sold door-to-door. However, it is now available nationwide in health and gourmet retailers and delicatessens as a freshly brewed tea in plastic bottles. “This pioneered the concept of green tea in a ready-to-go form,” says the Rona Tison, vice president of corporate relations. This impressive development has much to do with their dedication to green tea’s essential taste and characteristic, which they tend to preserve in their products. All of these factors serve to prove the company’s commitment to authenticity and their longevity. In Teas’ Tea, their latest merchandise, the innovated brewing methods used and the lightweight, recyclable bottle, continues their tradition of simplifying things for the consumer.

Tibetan Tea, a family-owned business launched in 2002, continues to advance in the unique characteristics by offering customers the usual, as well as the unusual. With their original and creative “sparkling” tea, the company has refined the possibilities for tea products. Their second place ranking, at the World Tea Expo’s Iced Tea Shake-Off Competition in Las Vegas, honors the company’s distinction among other competitors. Their natural ingredients increases this distinction against other products, with no preservatives or artificial flavors, the company is creating a new category in tea. Although not to be mistaken for soda, as Tibetan Tea uses less carbonation level, the product does contain a “natural lift.” The ginseng and guarana used, as well as the caffeine properties that derives from black tea, all give a stimulating and invigorating reaction.

With such different modifications Bigelow, Inc. could not have been left too far behind. As one of the leaders in flavored teas, this company is following up nicely with the Bigelow Fruit Juice Herb Teas, the most recent product line. Using a patented technology, that can press together the fruit juices, along with a blend of natural herbs, the company is coming out with four different flavors that contain no caffeine or added preservatives. The foil wrap on the teabag assures that the taste remains until brewing. Bigelow is inclined to appease the consumer with products that can be enjoyed anytime of the day, and their new Fruit Juice Herb Teas continues this custom.

Iced tea’s popularity is not fading anytime soon, which means companies are going to continue to find loopholes to attain that next niche, without of course diluting the special quality of tea. Ito En, for example, is getting ready to launch Sensha Shot in May, which serves as a standard green tea beverage, while offering a large range of Vitamin C. Also, Tibetan Tea has used the product’s elevating effects to position themselves to restaurants and bars in Las Vegas as a cocktail drink. Tibetan Teasers, as it is called, is a blend of the Tibetan Tea with anything from gin, vodka, and Tuaca. The mixtures vary, but are delicious nonetheless. To receive a listing of the different Teasers recipes, contact Tibetan Tea at staff@tibetantea.com. Considering these choices, whether as a sparkling beverage, or as a simple fruit juice, tea is likely to be enjoyed in combination with anything. So as the summer approaches, ditch the old presumptions of iced tea, and celebrate the season by taking pleasure in one of these latest creations.

Tea & Coffee - May/June, 2005


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