Honestly Sold, Still Honest

Image from treehugger.com

An article from E Magazine caught my attention, “The Big Green Buyout.” Featured in the article, along with other organic brands, was Honest Tea. I’ve posted reviews of their amazing Peach Oo-la-long and Lori’s Lemon.

Summarizing the sale of Honest Tea to Coke in 2008 and trying to form an opinion of whether it has affected the integrity of Honest Tea and other small organic companies (sold to different corporate leaders, including Kashi, Odwalla, Ben & Jerry’s, Silk), the article gave me some food for thought. The thing I like about Honest Tea is that it is “honest.” The ingredients are listed on the label, and preservatives are not tolerated. Real sugar is used for the slightly sweetened flavors, and the company provides an alternative drink to those loaded with empty calories. Since selling to Coke, that hasn’t changed.

I think it’s commendable that Honest Tea’s CEO Seth Goldman has stood up to Coke about key principles in his small business and won. If a huge company like Coke is paying your salary, would you have the guts to stand up for what you believe? It’s risky, but I think it paid off in the end (and I’m sure he’s still fighting). So it’s like he “sold out,” but he’s simultaneously fighting the big bad corporate world.

You can read the article for yourself, but I think it provided a way in which small companies can expand their outreach–I know I love being able to pick up an occasional bottle of Honest Tea at the grocery store–and keep their ideals too. The way Goldman describes it, Coke needs his little company to give it some integrity (some integrity), so he can afford to stand up for his principles and keep his customers coming back.

Honest Tea also continues to manufacture glass bottles, so Coke hasn’t entirely switched it over to plastic (although, some flavors are available in plastic bottles–they probably ship easier). Glass is more environmentally friendly and you can reuse the bottles. (I really have to start my repurposed glass bottle flower vase project and post about it!)

Even after refusing to remove “no high fructose corn syrup” from his labels (and Coke backed down!), Goldman still says “I can’t imagine any situation in which I wouldn’t speak what I believe.” As a customer who seeks alternatives, I found this reassuring.

Is it possible to change the corporate food world from the inside out? What do you think?

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Life of a Tea Drinker, Chapter VI

Chapter, the Sixth

In which the author grieves for her senses and explores the woes of caffeine withdrawal…

I didn’t think I’d really miss caffeine that much. I wasn’t a coffee drinker (I’ve heard this is a nightmare withdrawal for pregnant women in love with these beans). I drank enough herbal tea that I knew I’d still drink tea. Decaf black tea was starting to grow on me.

Let me give you a picture of how my day has progressed.

I wake up, get ready for work, run some laundry upstairs, iron Mike’s shirt, eat breakfast, feed Words, pack a lunch, and run out the door. Everything’s fine and dandy, I don’t think twice about it when I’m bombarded with e-mails about changes and the need for details, the work stacking up on my desk, the meetings. Then 3:00 rolls around. Uh oh. CRASH! My eyes are heavy. I find myself dozing, red pen mid-air.  To prevent an alcohol rubbing, ink removal ceremony later this evening (already went through that a few weeks ago), I run to the break room to make myself a cup of decaf black tea.

Suddenly, decaf is a poor man’s Assam. Adding sugar is like adding a tiny drop of syrup to a dry stack of pancakes. Has anyone noticed how unsatisfying decaf black tea is when you’re tasting the caffeinated version in your imagination? There is actually a taste difference. Nothing satisfies!

Powdered caffeine. Looks a lot like an illegal substance, doesn't it? Appropriately so. (Image from en.wikipedia.org)

I’ve heard that caffeine in small doses is fine for the average pregnant woman. Coffee has a lot, but tea isn’t bad. Chocolate is minimal in moderate (what’s that?) doses. The people who spout this information obviously have no idea how much caffeine I drank in a day, pre-pregnancy. And even if I had one cup, it would be a gateway cup. I would have to have more. Withdrawal would start all over again with pangs and cravings. Am I being too dramatic? I’ve been told I have the urge to overdramatize in my gestational state. (Deal with it.)

Besides, if I use up my caffeine quota on black tea, do you really want to be the one to stand between me and my chocolate fix later? I also heard that one of the pharmacists at my company was known to chug 5 sodas (pop, Coke–for those with dialects, read a book) every day while she was pregnant. It was one of those high-caffeine brands. I’m sorry, but that can’t be right. I know several doctors (and pharmacists) who pour out their knowledge of nutrition, and then cram Twinkies down their throats after clinical hours. No offense to nutritionists and doctors who at least try.

So I’ve decided that a nap after work (even if dinner is waiting) is necessary for my sanity, the health of those around me, and the well-being of the world, in that order.

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Cool, Minty Goodness Awaits You…

…at The Cooking Life! Michelle made an awesome black and mint iced tea that looks like it would cool the summer scorch. I know I’ll be trying it soon (but maybe with decaf). Check it out!

Mint leaves (image from en.wikipedia.com)

Wouldn’t you love to pick a bunch of this from your very own herb garden? I know, my expectations for a garden are fighting with my laziness, but someday… I have fond childhood memories of smelling (and trying to chew) mint leaves from our backyard. With our baby on the way, it might be worth looking into a serious garden project when he/she is old enough to walk barefoot through it with me. I’d like for our child to have the same memories and a value for homegrown food.

 
Speaking of growing your own food, Danielle Meitiv has a lot of garden ideas at her “barefoot blog.” If you’re interested, check it out. I subscribe and kick myself for not getting out there and starting my own! Maybe when I’ve got better balance and heat tolerance. Right now, I get a little dizzy standing in a line.
 
FYI, we find out this Friday if we’re having a boy or girl. I’ll be sure to post a special edition of Life of a Tea Drinker. Stay tuned!

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Peachy, Cheesy Lunch

Sound like a bad combo?

I’ve been so busy lately, and all the while thinking about my beloved tea blog! So I figured I’d write a quick post over my lunch break. And what goes better with lunch than peach tea?

Water, water, and more water. This has been my beverage of choice for days on end. When my stomach started grumbling today, I knew I needed to mix it up a little and add some flavor. Country Peach Passion by Celestial Seasonings is always in my desk drawer at work.

It’s a refreshing burst of fruity goodness that helps break up the monotony of water, or even black tea. (Blasphemy to the non-herbal drinkers out there.)

I’m pairing my peach tea today with macaroni and cheese leftovers I’ve been eating on for a few days. It’s really a treat and I should make it more often. My 90-year-old grandmom’s gourmet baked macaroni and cheese. Aren’t family recipes the best? I know, this isn’t a food blog. I’ll leave that to the experts. I will say that I had a little fun and added Herbes de Provence to her classic recipe for a little herby twist. It worked really well, especially considering it was in the oven during our power outage. (A story for another day…)

Wishing everyone a happy Friday and pleasant sipping.

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Rooibos With a Mint Twist

Desert Sage
by Republic of Tea
(Available at their site, or in stores where Republic is sold.)

It’s Friday morning and I’m at home! My company decided to give us Friday and Monday off for 4th of July this year. Of course, they’re taking away a day from the Christmas holiday, but I’ll have given birth by then (due December 13), so I won’t be in the office anyway. Free to enjoy my 4-day weekend!

So what am I doing with my free time? Drinking tea, of course!

Today’s post is truly a gem. I can’t believe I let it sit on my pantry shelf for as long as I did before having a chance to try it. Desert Sage is a combination of rooibos (African red tea) and a bountiful cornucopia of herbs that pleasantly compliment each other: orange bergamot mint (!), blackberry leaves, white sage, lemongrass, and labrador tea. I wouldn’t have thought to pair orange bergamot with rooibos, but it just shows that I don’t know anything about blending teas! And the mint variety is so refreshing. Really, for a cup of hot tea on a summer day, it’s a delight.

What’s labrador tea? This is when I’m proud of my little brain for storing bits of information from my editing job (one of the books I edit is an herbal guide). It’s an herbal tea made from a plant in the rhododendron family. It’s used medicinally by the Athabaskan and Inuit people in Alaska and Canada (and other areas). OK, I did have to look up the name of the native people. They use it for a number of common ailments like colds and stomach problems (and hangovers–every culture seems to have their own hangover remedy). If you like loose-leaf herbal, you’re most likely as thrilled as I am to consume infusions from roughage you would never eat by itself. Just look at the hodgepodge of goodness!

Rooibos, orange bergamot mint, blackberry leaves, white sage, lemongrass, and labrador tea

There are a lot of tiny pieces of leaves in this one, so you might see a few floaters that escape your infuser. That only enhances the loose-leaf experience for me. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t fully boil the water, and let it cool a little before steeping. You don’t want to cook the delicate herbs.

Enjoy an earthy cup of minty rooibos!

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You Didn’t Think It Was Possible!

Image courtesy of: freecoupons.com

A little Friday fun…

Check out this super fun recipe + craft at Miss Anthropist’s Kitchen! Make your own goldfish crackers! I plan on trying this, and it’s definitely going in my collection of kid-friendly recipes (along with homemade chicken nuggets).

Kids love helping in the kitchen, especially if it involves flour or Christmas cookie decorations. How much more fun would kids have making their own goldfish crackers? She also includes genious instructions for making your own mini fish cookie cutter from an empty pop can (or soda can, or Coke can–I understand there’s a dialect barrier here). She explains that the premade cookie cutter online was not worth the shipping cost (although, if you check out the other mini cookie cutter shapes in the link she provides, you might think it’s worth a splurge–mini whale and kitten?!).

Make your cutter, grab some ingredients from your pantry, and start baking your “snack that smiles back”!

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Summertime Fruit Tea

Hibiscus Sangria Tea
by Republic of Tea
(Available at the Republic’s site or in stores)

Missouri’s temperatures have been holding steady at 90+. Of course, we were sweltering in May too. Nothing like starting summer in what feels like mid-August. Sometimes hot tea, no matter how tasty the flavor, is just not an option (especially the more uncomfortable I feel in the heat—see my pregnancy announcement).

When we decided to honor our fathers on Sunday with a cookout, iced tea was a must. The Republic of Tea has quenched our early summer thirst with a satisfying fruity, floral blend. Hibiscus Sangria is an iced tea inspired by the tangy flavor of hibiscus and the seasonal juicy fun of the Sangria drink. Fruit bits and petals are roughly chopped in this eco-friendly tea bag, and you get 1 quart of refreshing flavor with each.

Because I’m obsessed with getting the most flavor out of every cup, I used two tea bags for my pitcher.

For ease of brewing, I used my Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker. It beats having to watch the water boil and steep the bags, especially when you’re busy preparing the cookout side items.

The fabulous ruby red color makes it eye-catching and you know it’s strong enough.

Paired with a chicken burger, coleslaw, watermelon slices, and potato casserole, this fruity tea hits the spot out on the patio. It’s refreshing but not super fruity. Adding chopped berries enhances the fruit flavors and gives your glass a touch of class.

What are your favorite iced tea flavors?

Summer is here! Sip iced tea!

*Update 6/24/11* Definitely leave the chopped fruit in the pitcher for a while, so all the flavors can mingle. The fruit will enhance the fruity taste in the tea. Otherwise, it’s just tangy, not really fruity. However, once you’ve done this, you have tasty tea but lousy fruit. Don’t try to eat the leftover fruit in the empty pitcher. The taste has been sucked right out of them. All you have is mush!

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