Award Winning Tea Replaces Sports Drinks

Tom Whittle, Iceland; photo by William Woodward

Athletic Tea Co. is redefining what constitutes sports and energy drinks as the company provides healthy yerba mate and tea-based beverages for athletes to improve performance. Athletic Tea Co. recently won two Great Taste Awards for its “Recovery” range from the Guild of Fine Food in the United Kingdom.

While participating in a 300-day charity bike ride that ran the length of South America, Tom Whittle was inspired to form the Athletic Tea Co. During this experience he noticed that drinking coffee and energy drinks were actually negatively affecting his performance. “The high sugar and high caffeine was great for the first hour but then I’d get a huge slump and need another,” Whittle said. “This was not only expensive but also bad for my body long-term.”

Upon arriving in Argentina, Whittle noticed a lot of people drank yerba mate. He tried it and noticed Yerba mate steadily releases caffeine over a much longer period of time than energy drinks and without the post caffeine crash of coffee. It produces sustained energy, so consuming it before and during exercise helps athletes. It also contains vitamins A vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur and zinc, as well as 11 polyphenols. Whittle never consumed energy drinks again.

After returning to England, Whittle enlisted the expertise of a former Tetley’s master blender and his team. Whittle also collaborated with sports nutritionists from universities around the U.K. to learn about which natural ingredients would provide the greatest benefit when blended with yerba mate and tea.

Athletic Tea Co. teas; photo courtesy of Helen Lewis, Literally PR

“We take the sugar, high caffeine and unnatural ingredients found in so many sports drinks and replace them with natural, plant based ingredients for a slower release of energy,” Whittle said. “This is better for performance but also for the body long-term.” His company currently offers 6 blends that in addition to yerba mate, include ingredients such as matcha, hemp protein, tulsi, maca, valerian, Siberian ginseng and baobab.

Whittle tried drinking the blends while running 17 marathons across Iceland in 10 days, setting a new world record for the fastest crossing of Iceland on foot, and did not suffer from any energy or caffeine crashes.

Whittle is delighted the Great Taste Awards shed light on how good the blends taste. “A lot of people automatically assume that because our teas are made for performance they may not taste great, but this prize hopefully combats that false perception perfectly,” Whittle said.

Athletic Tea Co. is currently supplying its blends to Champions League soccer clubs, international rugby teams and other athletes in the U.K.