Honest Tea

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Honest Tea
Honest Tea Company Logo.gif
Type Iced tea
Manufacturer Honest Tea, Inc / The Coca-Cola Company
Distributor The Coca-Cola Company
Introduced 1998
Website www.honesttea.com

Honest Tea (U.S.) is a bottled organic tea company based in Bethesda, Maryland. It was founded in 1998 by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company.

Honest Tea products began selling at a local Fresh Fields, which was later acquired by Whole Foods Markets. Originally its products were notable for being almost entirely tea with a tiny amount of sugar. Since 2007, it has expanded its sweetened beverage line while distribution of its barely sweetened teas shrank. Honest Tea received its United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification in 2004, and was acknowledged as one of the 500 fastest growing private companies.

The Coca-Cola Company purchased a 40% stake of the U.S. company at $43 million in 2008.[1] It bought the rest of the company in 2011.[2]

In 2009, Honest Tea US received an unpaid endorsement when The New York Times revealed that the White House is now stocking Honest Tea, as it is President Barack Obama's preferred beverage- specifically, the "Black Forest Berry" and "Green Dragon" flavors.[3]

A separate small company controls the "Honest Tea" trademark in Australia; the American Honest Tea and Australian Honest Tea have gone to court several times over the rights to the name.[4]


1998 Five varieties appeared on a local Whole Foods Store (then Fresh Fields). Tea Production was moved to Buffalo, New York. The company ended the year with sales of $250,000.

1999 New accounts with Whole Foods Market, Wild Oats Markets, Giant Food,[5] Harris Teeter and The Food Emporium were created. The year ended with sales at $1.1 million.

2000 Honest Tea created a tea bag line. SPINS[dead link] announced that Honest Tea is the fastest-growing bottled tea brand in natural food stores. The year ends with $1.9 million in sales.

2001 In this year, 50% of Honest Tea's products were made with only certified organic products. Community Green Tea was introduced in partnership with City Year. Fourth-year sales were $3.2 million.

2002 SPINS, a market research and consulting firm for the natural products industry, awarded Honest Tea seven awards, one of which was the best-selling bottled tea brand in the natural foods industry. Seven of the top ten best-selling varieties were Honest Tea products. Year-end sales were $4.6 million.

2003 Peach Oo-la-long (Fairtrade certification), Green Dragon, and a new formula of Lori's Lemon were introduced to create a new line of "a tad sweet teas". The two new flavors were the two most successful new beverages launched in the natural foods industry in 2003. Honest Tea ranked #117 on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing private companies. Honest Tea was also given the "Dream Big Award" sponsored by Inc. (magazine) and Visa Inc.. At the end of this year the sales were $5.5 million.

2004 In January, Honest Tea gained full USDA organic certification on all products. The PET line was introduced, and year-end sales were $5.9 million.

2005 White teas were added to the PET and Glass lines: Mango White Tea, Pearfect White Tea, and Vanilla Mint White Tea. Heavenly Honey Green (later renamed Honey Green), and a new Ade line, Cranberry Lemonade and Limeade, were introduced as well. Sales hit $9.6 million.

2006 Pomegranate Blue was added to the Honest Ade line. Just Green Tea and Just Black Tea, two unsweetened fair trade teas, were added to the Glass line. The two additional glass teas were named a Clear Choice Award winner by Glass Packaging Institute for excellence in packaging,[6] and Consumer Reports named Lori's Lemon as number one in its July feature story on bottled teas.[7] Sales were $13.5 million.

2007 Honest Tea launched nine new flavors. These new flavors included an addition to the PET Tea line—Pomegranate White Tea with Acai, one addition to the PET Ade line—Orange Mango with Mangosteen, two additions to the Glass line—Sublime Mate and Pomegranate Red with Goji Berry(Fairtrade). A whole new line for children was introduced as well; Honest Kids was launched with three flavors. Honest Tea partnered with TerraCycle to recycle the used drink pouches of Honest Kids to handbags and pencil pouches. Sales hit $23 million.

2008 In the year of Honest Tea's tenth anniversary, Coca-Cola purchased 40% of Honest Tea. Five new flavors were introduced: Citrus Green Energy Tea, Peach White Tea (Fairtrade), and Lemon Black Tea (Fairtrade) to the PET Tea line; Citrus Spice Decaf and Jasmine Green Energy Tea (Fairtrade) to the Glass line. Honest Tea helped found Bethesda Green,[8] a non-profit in Bethesda, Maryland. Sales reached $38 million.[9]

2010 Honest Tea launches a guerrilla marketing effort called "Honest Cities." Unmanned kiosks filled with Honest Tea products were set up in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Payment was based on the honor system, with hidden cameras set up to capture the action.[10]

2011 The Coca-Cola Company bought the rest of the company.[2]


In addition to Honest Tea, the company produces several other types of drinks under the "Honest" brand name.

Honest Splash
Bottled juice drinks.[11]
Honest Kids
Drinks comprised mainly of juices contained in individual pouches. Launched in 2007.[12]
  • Appley Ever After
  • Berry Berry Good Lemonade
  • Goodness Grapeness
  • Super Fruit Punch
  • Tropical Tango Punch
Honest Zero
Drinks with zero calories, which include green tea and lemonade as of February 2014.[13]
Honest Fizz
Soft drinks marketed with having no calories or sugar.[14]


  1. ^ "Drink maker finds Coke its cup of tea – Beverage Industry, Body Shop International Plc, Maine". Baltimore Sun. 2008-04-16. Archived from the original on 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Honest Tea Joins The Coca-Cola Family" (Press release). The Coca-Cola Company. March 1, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ "White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code". The New York Times. 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  4. ^ "Australian iced tea more 'honest' than US". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-03-19. 
  5. ^ Mirabella, Lorraine (May 5, 1999). "Md. tea in a bottle ready to go places". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Glass Packaging Institute". Gpi.org. 2006-05-08. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  7. ^ "Food reviews and Ratings from independent experts at Consumer Reports". Consumerreports.org. 2009-07-02. Archived from the original on 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  8. ^ "About Us". Bethesda Green. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Honest Beverages". Honesttea.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  10. ^ Greenberg, Karl (11 November 2010), "Honest Tea Grows Branches, Brews The Leaves", Marketing Daily, archived from the original on 2011-07-14, retrieved 2011-02-16 
  11. ^ "Honest Splash". Honest Tea. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Our Mission". Honest Tea. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Honest zero". Honest Tea. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Honest Fizz". Honest Tea. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 

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