Portland, Oregon-based Thaiwala launched its all-natural Thai tea concentrate in August 2019. It is made from sustainably sourced organic black tea grown in Northern Thailand and can be enjoyed hot or cold simply by adding whole milk or a dairy alternative.
Thaiwala was created by Heather Howitt, who also founded Oregon Chai in 1994—another brand for which she prioritized using USDA Certified Organic ingredients.
Howitt was first introduced to Thai tea during a trip to Thailand. “I love this stuff, I’ve got to make this at home,” she thought; and added, “There is a lot of mystery around it.” Howitt was inspired to learn more about the ingredients that go into making the tea blend.
Most Thai iced teas sold in grocery stores do not list all of the ingredients involved and limit the list to: tea, food coloring and “Thai tea mix”. Typically, tea growers send their leftover tea that is covered in pesticides to flavor companies, which add fillers, colors and artificial flavors that remain a mystery.
However, Howitt could detect notes of chocolate, vanilla and other flavors and committed herself to coming up with a natural version of the tea she loves.
Howitt returned to Thailand and found a certified organic tea and pandan leaf grower who is also a bee conservationist. “The tea garden is teeming with life. It’s so healthy, thriving and beautiful,” said Howitt. “I was captivated by her passion for organic farming and her pristine tea plantation that was home to a variety of wildlife, including bees and butterflies. We instantly connected with a shared sense of purpose and mission.”
Then Howitt came up with her own Thai iced tea recipe that includes organic black tea, Thai herbs, organic caramel, pandan leaf, organic vanilla, cocoa, and beta carotene for coloring. “Our first flavor is ‘Original’ but it rivals the sweet and creamy drink that consumers find in many Thai restaurants, since our version is crafted with all-natural ingredients,” said Howitt.
Thaiwala, which is decaffeinated, has been popular among children when sampled in stores.
Thai iced tea also tends to be a top selling flavor of boba tea.
Thaiwala is available in 32-ounce cartons and have an 18-month shelf life. It is currently distributed to grocery stores in Northern California, Oregon and Washington, at a few tea and coffee shops, and on Amazon.com.
Thaiwala will launch an unsweetened version of its Thai iced tea at Natural Products Expo West March 4-7 in Anaheim, California.