Caribou Rollout Signals Sparkling Tea Trend


Bottlers including Steaz, TeaZazz, Lipton, Golden Star, Phylo and Tibetan Tea have offered sparkling tea and tea-juice combinations for several years. Now brick and mortar store fronts are sharing the fizz.

Last week 564-store Caribou Coffee introduced six carbonated tea and tea-juice blends in combinations that include black, green and a white teas.

Sparkling GuayakiGuayaki Yerba Mate also rolled out a sparkling version. Evolution Fresh, a new “healthy drink” concept from Starbucks that features Tazo Tea and 750-store Jamba Juice which recently acquired Talbot Tea are also eyeing this previously little-known niche.

TeaZazz, launched in 2006, was one of the first sparkling teas to market eventually finding its way into grocery, drug, mass market and club stores. Tamara Saretsky and Delicia Soliman sought a refreshing and healthier alternative to soda. They used quality tea and introduced innovative flavors such as Sparkling Wasabi Green and Green Tea Lemon, White Tea Orange-Mango and Half and Half Black Tea Lemonade and even Paw Paw Fruit.

San Francisco’s Golden Star Sparkling Tea was another version early to market. Founder Joel Rosenberg selected for his tea a delicate Jasmine Silver Needle White from China’s Fujian province. Unlike carbonated versions, this was fermented in the style of champagne but with virtually no alcohol. It is sold in champagne bottles.

Green teas from Steaz, another San Francisco Bay Area brand, were mechanically carbonated and bottled in four packs and cans. The brand appeared in grocery aisles and remains widely available. Lipton rolled out a sparkling tea in 2009 with PepsiCo. Its Strawberry Kiwi Green Tea developed a following but was discontinued after four years.

Caribou’s offerings combine berry and peach with black tea, lemonade with green tea and mint lime with white. Two juices are also in the lineup: Lemon Ginger Pomegranate Juice and Very Berry Juice.

The all-natural drinks in sparkling and still versions are available nationwide. "The new sparkling beverage line-up is the perfect complement to the summer fun our fans are already participating in," said Alfredo Martel, senior vice president of marketing and product management.

"Our new sparkling beverages will give even more people the opportunity to experience the distinctive benefits of Yerba Mate," said David Karr, co-founder and vice president of Marketing, Guayaki.

Tea-juice combinations are becoming popular with consumers concerned with the high sugar content of 100% juices. Jamba Juice is experimenting with a line following its acquisition this spring of Chicago-based Talbot Teas. Starbucks continues to test Evolution Fresh at its concept store in Bellevue, Wash.

Counter staff at the concept store offer tea and juice combinations shaken and poured over ice.

Passion Tea was the first tea available from Evolution on tap. There are eight high-pressure, cold-pressed juices: pineapple, green, carrot, beet, coconut water pineapple, cucumber, blueberry and passion. In addition there is a tap for Tazo tea and six hot teas. Flavors include Tazo’s Berry Blossom White, China Green Tips, Earl Grey, Refresh, Calm and Vanilla Rooibos.

“The shaken teas can be mixed with juices,” says Marianne Duong, spokesperson for Evolution Fresh. “Juice partners start with special recipes like Passion Herbal and customize the beverage order to please customers,” she explains. Handcrafted beverages meet the needs of customers at any point in their “wellness journey” she says.

The cold-crafted juice market is estimated at $3.4 billion. PepsiCo’s Naked Juice is the market leader. Evolution Fresh™ will replace Naked Juice at Starbucks locations and the brand will soon appear on grocery shelves. Organic Nantucket Nectar and Odwalla hold significant market share in the broader healthy juice category.

Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.