Honest Tea’s most popular flavor variety was the combination of green tea with honey. Fans of this flavor can rest assured that Just Ice Tea will also have a variety that combines the smooth taste of honey blended with earthy notes of green tea once again. (We will be withholding the name and label until our official launch.)
As we prepare to launch this line in record time, we want to share details about sourcing and our rationale for including various ingredients.
Our recipe use two different types of green tea leaves. One is called “Chun mee”, which can be translated as “Spring’s eyebrows” and sure enough, the tea leaves look like little green eyebrows. The other variety is called gunpowder green tea – so called because the leaves are rolled into little pellets, and when they are immersed in hot water, they “explode” and unfurl. Both are grown in Hunan China, a province in Central China, where Mao Zedong was born.
Green teas are known for having high levels of antioxidants such as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which many experts believe has healing and preventive benefits. Back in the Honest Tea days we worked with Rutgers to test the antioxidant levels of our bottled green teas. We were pleased to see that bottled teas brewed with real tea leaves had the same high levels of antioxidants as freshly brewed tea while bottles made with powders or syrups did not.
We also learned that since there are not FDA-approved claims around antioxidants, it’s legally risky to make claims about specific antioxidant levels in tea (someone tried to sue Honest Tea) so we won’t be doing that.
Since all Eat the Change products have been vegan (and some vegans don’t consider honey vegan), I want to explain our rationale for including honey in some of our recipes. Given the risk of colony collapse, we think supporting responsibly sourced honey can play a constructive role in creating resilient ecosystems, and pollinators play a crucial role in every ecosystem. Unlike wild harvested honey, which can result in the killing of a colony, responsibly sourced honey can be done in a way that doesn’t disrupt the life cycle of the bees and protects the food safety and integrity of the honey.
In addition, organic honey certification requires that the apiaries be located at least three miles from any potential source of pesticides and others environmental contaminants. Our multiflora honey, which comes from different regions of Brazil (including from the rainforest), is tested regularly and has been found to be free of synthetic chemical residues such as glyphosate, amitraz and antibiotics.
The 1.8 miles boundary for forage areas and 2.2 miles for surveillance for absence of non-GMO crops boundary helps provide economic motivation for protecting these pristine ecosystems.
I realize some might disagree with the use of an animal-derived product, just as some don’t approve of us using organic agave, but I learned long ago that we won’t please everyone. The best we can do is be honest about our thought process and demonstrate that we are doing our best to fully consider the many dimensions of our purchasing decisions.
Photograph by Theodore Kaye. © 2015 Fair Trade USA.