A start-up called 8th Wonder Tea, from Colorado, is launching a new ready-to-drink (RTD) “superfood” tea range that claims to “supercharge body and mind”. Containing unusual ingredients like ashwagandha and ginseng, the team behind the product hope to target young, millennial consumers when they launch in April this year. We spoke to Reed Rush, co-founder of 8th Wonder Tea, about the range, how they created the drinks and about the ingredients.
Tell us about 8th Wonder Tea. When did it start-up and what inspired it?
The beginning of 8th Wonder Tea, like everything we aim to accomplish, came about in an organic fashion and gradually evolved from a desire to live healthier, happier, personally fulfilling lives. Dan [Moore, co-founder of 8th Wonder Tea] had previously been involved in a start-up which used gaming to encourage physical activity among children and adolescents, and I had been managing a health department in a certified organic grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. We both knew that Boulder County was an epicentre for personal wellness and transformation and Dan and myself wanted to contribute in any way possible to this renaissance of variety in the natural foods and products sector. Being something of a self-styled tea freak, consuming upwards of ten cups a day, I would pass along whatever herbal wisdom I picked up to Dan until we had an “aha moment” and simultaneously realised the potential for superfoods in RTD, accessible forms. Our company name, 8th Wonder, highlights our international and “monumentally different” approach to artisan teas, which includes introducing coveted global ingredients to western consumers. Complete with one-of-a-kind superfoods from diverse cultures around the globe, our teas possess the essential vitamins to maximise performance and wellbeing, and fuel our customers’ most passionate individual pursuits while donating 1% of our profits to environmental, climate, and sustainability projects. Dan and I believe these particular causes are indispensable to the paradigm-shifting attitudes of our target market and ourselves, while directly impacting the sources and purveyors of our superfood ingredients positively.
How do you create the drinks and how long did it take to perfect the blend?
8th Wonder Tea’s two SKUs (ashwagandha apple chai black tea and ginseng passionfruit green tea) started with a multitude of experimentation, copious tea drinking, and almost obsessive compulsive refinement. As entrepreneurs, Dan and I knew we wanted SKUs that incorporated elements of the Indian Ayurvedic system and traditional Chinese medicine, which we then sought to create in both teas respectively. With the help of our beverage architect Flavorman and their project managers, we were able to edit complex flavour profiles over a period of about six months until we were fully satisfied both with the ingredients sourced and their cumulative result. Our central production facility is located in Denver, Colorado, where we have outsourced production to Landmark Foods, a mid-scale, organic food and beverage co-packing facility.
Tell us about your use of unusual ingredients like ashwagandha and ginseng. What are their benefits?
By including ashwagandha, a coveted Indian “adaptogen” which boosts human endurance and stamina, and ginseng, renowned in China for improving cognitive function and vigour, 8th Wonder has solidified itself as a pivotal recipe innovator in the functional beverage market. By incorporating these stress-reducing superfoods such as ginseng and ashwagandha into our artisan teas, we aim to make optimal health more attainable for today’s productivity-focussed, fast-paced consumers. 8th Wonder Teas are designed to provide the body with natural energy sources that work as powerful catalysts for restoring vitality in athletic competition, at the office, and beyond. Our teas offer 100% of the FDA recommended value of vitamin B3, B5, B6, B12, and vitamin C. These crucial vitamins help boost one’s mood, energy levels, and maintain a healthy immune, cardiovascular, and nervous system. Each iced tea SKU contains a unique mixture of superfood ingredients, yielding specific health benefits. For example, ashwagandha is an excellent source of antioxidants due to its high level of potassium and phenols. Asian ginseng, contrastingly, helps boost immunity due its bountiful vitamin C and iron content, and delivers a natural energy boost thanks to its green tea base. 8th Wonder plans to roll out additional flavours, following intensive recipe design and product testing, to comprise a complete line of five to seven internationally diverse, delicious superfood tea beverages. With the proliferation today of convenient foods and quick caffeine “fixes”, 8th Wonder is the perfect on-the-go, enlightened alternative for today’s highly driven athletes, students, and professional men and women.
You say you’re using the “highest quality organic, non-GMO ingredients”. How are you working to ensure that this is the case?
At 8th Wonder Tea, organic certification and sourcing are of the highest priority as a 1% for the Plant Brand. We want to source ingredients that are not contributing to environmental degradation, pollution of the body or mind, or that incorporate artificial pesticides and bioengineering. In conjunction with our beverage architect project team at Flavorman, we have sourced each ingredient on the basis of its GRAS status (Generally Recognized as Safe) with the FDA, its organic certification, and functional health claims based on peer-reviewed clinical trials. All of our products have undergone testing for 95% organic status, which is the required benchmark for certification in the US; gluten-free determination testing; and shelf-life studies for quality control with lab experts at Flavorman. We are currently in the process of organic certification with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, a procedure soon to be finalised, and additionally, our claims have been approved by our food and beverage legal counsel on the basis of both ingredients and their sources. We are completely free of GMOs and although somewhat inferred through the organic label, we plan on engaging The Non-GMO Project momentarily to put health-conscious consumers at optimal ease.
8th Wonder Tea is “the tea that takes you places”. Why did you choose this slogan?
With all the buzz surrounding “superfoods” in today’s highly competitive market, 8th Wonder felt it was especially important to highlight the global traditions and cultural heritages that have fostered these remarkable medicinal herbs for centuries. So often western consumers may be informed about functional health benefits from top-quality ingredients and yet remain completely ignorant of their constituent origins. As a company we sought to mitigate this issue by highlighting what these specific cultures have to offer to an increasingly globalised and flattening world, while ensuring that our company mission reflects gratitude towards these unique sources and minimises cultural appropriation. Our carefully crafted motto, “the tea that takes you places”, is designed to reflect these sentiments by suggesting that every sip contains an essence of the cultures in which our teas derive their unique flavour profiles. To create cohesion within our branding, the company logo is reminiscent of a compass, hinting at our resolve to scour the globe in search of the next “eighth wonder of the world” in terms of functional health benefits, taste, energy, and vitality. Furthermore, the outlines of our label on each packaged tea were intentionally designed to mimic passport stamps. Simply put, 8th Wonder believes each of us inhabits a startlingly beautiful though fragile planet, filled with infinite varieties of premium goods that can improve quality of life if used responsibly and sustainably. It is our wish that each tea SKU will awaken the desire to be a steward, a seasoned traveller, adventurer, and men and women of culture seeking to expand their horizons and overall wellness. In a humble way, 8th Wonder Teas are intended as a passport to health and new beginnings.
When and where will the drinks be available for purchase?
8th Wonder will be available in the Rocky Mountain region and New York City markets approximately April 2016. We plan on selling at major organic grocery chains such as Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Central Market and many other smaller artisan organic vendors/restaurants throughout those regions. 12-pack cases will also be sold online.
What are your plans for 2016?
Launch! Continue to build major organic grocery accounts. Brand and advertise in innovative ways that reinforce our modern products (social media and viral videos). Ultimately, this year we’re stoked to officially jumpstart our mission of changing the way young, millennial consumers fuel their body and minds through the power of superfood tea.
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