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We were thirsty.

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest Tea, drank a lot of liquids. An active person, Seth was continually in search of the perfect drink to quench his thirst after a run, a game of basketball or between grad school classes. Yet, Seth found most drinks either too sweet or too tasteless.

Barry Nalebuff, Seth's professor at the Yale School of Management, found that he and Seth shared a passion for the idea of a less sweet, but flavorful beverage during a class discussion of a Coke vs. Pepsi case study. They agreed that there were tons of sugary sweet options and lots of watery drinks, but in 1994, there was nothing in between to fill the void.

Fast forward to '97. Seth goes for a run in New York City with college friend who used to concoct juice drinks with him after class. As they found themselves doing the same beverage mixing after the run, Seth knew then that if he was going to quench his thirst for good, he would have to create the drink himself. He e-mailed Barry to see if he was still excited about the idea.

Seth and BarryTiming was everything. Barry had just returned from India where he had been analyzing the tea industry for a case study. Among other things, he learned that most of the tea American companies purchased for bottling was the lower quality dust and fannings left after quality tea had been produced. Barry had even come up with a name to describe a bottled tea that was made with real tea leaves--Honest Tea. When Seth heard the name, the simmering idea began to boil--it was the perfect name for an all-natural brand that would strive to create healthy and honest relationships with its customers, suppliers and the environment.

Seth took a deep breath, quit his job at Calvert mutual funds, and started brewing batches of tea in his kitchen. Five weeks after taking the plunge, he brought thermoses of tea and a recycled bottle with a mock-up label to Fresh Fields (Whole Foods Markets). The buyer ordered 15,000 bottles, and Seth and Barry were in business--if they could figure out how to make that much tea. They did, and we're still at it 15 years later.

In March 2011, The Coca-Cola Company purchased Honest Tea after an initial 40% investment in 2008, which helped expand the distribution of HONEST® beverages.  Today, Honest Tea is run as an independent business unit and our HONEST TEA®, HONEST ADE®, HONEST KIDS®, HONEST SPLASH™, and HONEST Fizz beverages can be found in more than 100,000 stores across United States.  The dream that took root in Seth's kitchen in 1998 became a company that just celebrated its 15th anniversary.  Seth continues to run the business as the President and TeaEO in Bethesda, MD with the same passion towards health, the environment and social-responsibility.


Our History

1998 - We launched Honest Tea in February of 1998.  Our first bottles hit grocery store shelves in June, offering five varieties of freshly brewed and barely sweetened tea.  Seth and Barry landed our first account with Fresh Fields using batches of tea made in Seth's kitchen.  Eventually, tea production was moved to Buffalo, N.Y. We finished our first year with sales of $250,000. Click here for the pdf!

1999 - We added more varieties and weathered our share of spoiled batches, learning as we went along.  We launched First Nation Peppermint, the world's first organic bottled tea, and Decaf Ceylon, a naturally decaffeinated black tea.  By this time we were landing new accounts from Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats, Giant, Harris Teeter and Food Emporium.  We ended our second year at $1.1 million in sales.


2000 - We entered the tea bag business, launching eight varieties of tea bags.  We added another organic variety, Jakarta Ginger, in the summer months.  To our delight, we became the fastest-growing bottled tea brand in natural food stores (SPINS), and our sales hit $1.9 million.

2001 - We introduced Community Green, an organic bottled tea created in partnership with City Year, a non-profit organization that brings together young people for a year of community service.  More than half our varieties became organic.  Fourth year sales were $3.2 million.


2002 - We launched Haarlem Honeybush, an herbal tea produced in partnership with the farmers' cooperative in Haarlem, South Africa.  We became the best-selling bottled tea brand in the natural foods industry, claiming seven of the top ten best-selling varieties (SPINS).  Our sales topped $4.6 million.

2003 - We launched two new flavors, Peach Oo-la-long and Green Dragon Tea, and reformulated Lori's Lemon to create a new line of "a tad sweet" teas.  Peach Oo-la-long, the first Fair Trade Certified™ bottled tea, and Green Dragon Tea were the two most successful new beverages launched in the natural foods industry in 2003.  Honest Tea ranked #117 on the Inc. magazine "Inc. 500" list of the fastest growing private companies--the highest-ranked food and beverage company on the list.  We were awarded the "Dream Big Award" sponsored by Inc. and Visa.  Sales hit $5.5 million.

2004 - In January, we gained full organic certification on all twelve of our bottled teas as well as all eight tea bags.  With this certification, Honest Tea became the only tea company to offer an entire line of organic bottles and bags.  We introduced a line of tea in plastic PET-1 bottles which received rave reviews and won several packaging awards.  The company was again listed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies.  Sales hit $5.9 million.


- Our first white teas were introduced in both the glass and PET bottles.  These included Mango White Tea, Pearfect White Tea, and Vanilla Mint White Tea.  Heavenly Honey Green was also introduced.  In May, the company made its first foray into a non-tea product with the introduction of Honest Ade Limeade and Cranberry Lemonade organic thirst quenchers.  Sales hit $9.6 million.
2006 - We added Pomegranate Blue Honest Ade, which soon became a top-selling variety in a matter of months.  Just Green Tea and Just Black Tea, two unsweetened Fair Trade teas, barely hit the shelves before being named a Clear Choice Award winner by the Glass Packaging Institute for excellence in packaging.  The July issue of Consumer Reports ran a feature story on bottled teas and selected Lori's Lemon as the top tea.  Sales hit $13.5 million.

2007 - We welcomed new investors and board members.  New flavors included Pomegranate White Tea with Açaí and Orange Mango Honest Ade in plastic bottles, along with Sublime Mate and Pomegranate Red Tea with Goji Berry in glass bottles.  We introduced 64-oz. multi-serve bottles of four varieties (Just Green Tea, Just Black Tea, Mango White Tea, and Moroccan Mint).  We also launched our line for children, Honest Kids, with three flavors of low-sugar organic thirst quenchers.  We partnered with TerraCycle to recycle used drink pouches and turn them into pencil pouches, handbags, and other items.  Sales hit $23 million.

2008   2008 - We accepted a minority investment from The Coca-Cola Company in February, presenting opportunities for further growth and expansion nationwide.  Five new flavors were introduced, including Peach White Tea and Lemon Black Tea brewed with Fair Trade Certified™ tea leaves and packaged in in plastic bottles.  We also helped establish Bethesda Green, a non-profit to focus on sustainability efforts in our local community.  Men's Health magazinedubbed Honey Green Tea its "King of the Catechins," Health magazinepresented its "America's Healthiest Food/Beverage" award to Pomegranate White Tea with Açaí, and Parents magazine highlighted Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade as a "low sugar, warm weather favorite."  Sales hit $38 million.

2009   2009 - We continued to explore new sustainable practices by introducing the Graham plastic bottle, which is 22 percent lighter and removes over a million pounds of packaging materials from the production line each year. awarded us the coveted 4-Leaf Rating as "the greenest beverage company" on the planet and we also partnered with the Sierra Club.  We launched several new varieties: two new Honest Kids varieties, Super Fruit Punch and Appley Ever After, which earned its name from an online contest inviting kids to submit imaginative names; three new Honest Tea varieties including Mango Green Tea, Agave Mate and Tropical Mate; and created an innovative line of organic kombucha drinks called HONEST KOMBUCHA® with active probiotic cultures that promote digestive health.  Sales hit $47 million.

2010   2010 - We started the year off strong by introducing six new varieties in the first quarter: Half & Half, Zero Calorie Passion Fruit Green Tea, 64 fl. oz. Honest Kids in Super Fruit Punch and Berry Berry Lemonade, and Maqui Berry Grapefruit and Apple Jasmine Honest Kombucha.  CVS, America's leading retail pharmacy, took four PET varieties into its 7,000 national stores.  We also created a national presence in the second quarter by expanding into new markets, including the southeast and Chicago.  Our "Honest Cities" social experiment tested how "honest" Americans really were when they thought no one was looking.  By December, we reluctantly said goodbye to Honest Kombucha and prepared to bring another innovative line to market in 2011.  We were ranked as one of the The Huffington Post's leading "8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies," listed as one of's "Top 7 Green Corporations of 2010," and named by The Washington Post as one of the top five companies of the year.  Sales hit $71.5 million.

2011   2011 - In March, The Coca-Cola Company purchased Honest Tea, bringing us into the Coke family as an independent operating unit.  We continued to innovate by developing a new beverage line called HONEST CocoaNova®, a cacao infusion with the alkaloid theobromine (found in dark chocolate) and only 50 calories per bottle.  We transitioned all of our teas over to Fair Trade Certified™, and introduced five new varieties: Mocha, Cherry, and Mint CocoaNova; Zero Calorie Lemonade; and Classic Green Tea.  We're also very proud of our second-annual Mission Report, "Keeping It Honest."  Finally, a project several years in the making came to fruition--we refreshed the labels on our plastic-bottled beverages, updated artwork and transitioned the Nutrition Facts panel to reflect the new serving size of one bottle=one serving.

2012   2012 - On April 30, Honest Tea kicked off The Great Recycle by placing a 30-foot tall recycling bin in Times Square, NYC; the equivalent of 15,000 Honest Tea plastic bottles were collected and recycled on that one day.  Over the summer we launched our first integrated advertising campaign with TV spots, web videos, billboards, and a wrapped mass transit vehicles sporting the new tagline "Refreshingly Honest®," highlighting our use of real ingredients and commitment to transparency.  In August, we continued to test the honesty of the country by expanding the third-annual "Honest Cities" social experiment to more than 30 cities nationwide.  Renamed The National Honesty Index, we tracked the honesty of participants as well as their observable characteristics and complied it into a larger interactive website.  We were happy to learn more than 93% of those who took part were honest!  During the year we were honored with some exceptional awards: Men's Health magazine awarded Honey Green Tea "Best Green Tea," marking the fifth straight year our products have been highlighted by the publication; Raspberry Fields was named one of Women's Health magazine's "125 Best Packaged Foods for Women," and Classic Green was awarded Real Simple magazine's "Best Green Tea."  In addition, we reformulated the Honest Kids line of beverages by removing the organic sugar cane and replacing it with additional juice, while keeping 40 calories per 6.75oz pouch.
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