Bossi, a Rooibos Tea Co., produces tea for children, an often overlooked demographic in the tea industry. Bossi’s rooibos-based line of teas is packaged in small drink boxes that are perfect for children’s lunchboxes and provide a healthy alternative to the sugary beverages that are often marketed to children.
Bossi was founded by Celia and Paul Venter. As parents, they noticed the limited healthy beverage options their own children had. Originally from South Africa, where they grew up drinking rooibos tea, they immigrated to the United States and wanted to make rooibos and its health benefits available to Americans. Rooibos is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties and supports the immune system. It is also naturally caffeine free and has a calming effect.
“Growing up in South Africa, it’s really an intuitive jump. We thought, ‘Why don’t Americans drink more rooibos tea,’” Paul said. “We want to do good here. We believe in U.S. manufacturing. We want to plow back into the U.S. for being so good to us.”
Rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans and is exclusively grown in South Africa. The word “bossi” means “small bush or shrub,” so it is a fitting label for a children’s drink.
“We want to be proactive with our kids’ health. It’s a low-sugar, great-tasting option for kids,” Celia said. Each 200 milliliter box of Bossi has 8 grams of organic cane sugar. The same quantity of organic apple juice usually has about 26 grams of sugar. “The sugar in fruits has the exact same effect on your body as organic cane sugar, so it’s really the quantity that is the issue,” Celia said.
The flavors in the collection are strawberry, watermelon and mango. Currently in the works are additional flavors and packaging formats, which they plan to introduce in second quarter of 2018.
All of the rooibos used in Bossi’s beverages is organic and socially responsibly sourced. The Venters have relationships with the farming community in South Africa.
“The rooibos that we source is of the highest quality and the highest organic certification standards,” Paul said. “It’s done in a way that is sustainable and impacts the community in South Africa in a way that is really meaningful.”
Bossi is distributed through KeHE and UNFI to stores in California, Texas, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania. The Venters and the distributors plan to continue to expand distribution across the United States.
“Anybody—teahouses, retailers, schools—can pull product from our distributors,” Paul said. “We love to support the pursuit of introducing tea to kids at a younger age.”
“We’re pretty unique in the category of kids’ teas. We looked at this segment and thought it looked like a glaring white space,” Paul said. “If you look at tea consumption on a retail level, liquid tea is the number three biggest dollar value product for commercial grocery. But inside that category, there aren’t any kids’ options. So we decided to attack that segment head-on. That’s why we’re called a ‘kids tea,’ no reservations about it.”