The Ins and Outs of Refrigerated Organic Tea

10m | May 17, 2024

According to Mintel International, refrigerated ready-to-drink teas are leading the growth in the ready-to-drink tea category. US sales are approaching $1.5 billion of the $4.2 billion worth of bottled tea sold in multi-outlets. Interestingly, it’s not just the younger generation driving this growth. Older tea drinkers and millennials are also contributing, while Gen Zs prefer hot herbal infusions and sweeter profiles, including flavored green teas in ready-to-drink format.

Matt McLean, founder and CEO of beverage brand Uncle Matt’s Organic, joins Tea Biz to discuss why his brand is betting on refrigerated Southern-style black teas. His sweet tea features a blend of organic agave and stevia. He says most traditional sweet teas contain 30 to 40 grams of sugar, using a mix of cane sugar and artificial sweeteners. His third tea is a sweetened half-and-half made with organic lemonade. McLean’s proprietary blend of black teas is freshly brewed and being packaged at his Texas bottling facility for a July 1 national rollout.

Uncle Matt’s is a pioneer in the organic beverage category, noted for its Florida orange juice, lemonades, tropical blends, and organic energy shots. It is the largest US-certified organic orange juice company, with over 15 million bottles sold annually at 15,000 outlets. The brand launched in 1999 and became a Certified B-Corp in 2022. Matt McLean is a third-generation Florida citrus grower with orchards from the late 1800s. In the 1980s, a devastating freeze destroyed 600 acres of orange groves, and more recently, the industry experienced setbacks from pests and disease. Oranges are now outsourced mainly from Brazil and Mexico. In 2017, Dean Foods (a Dairy conglomerate) bought the company, enabling McLean’s parents to retire. Two years later, Dean Foods was bankrupt, and in 2020, McLean, his father, his wife, and his brother repurchased the company.

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