Yet another brand has been taken from us with the passing sands of time (and capitalism). Honest Tea, the lightly sweetened tea brand that I used to drink in college, is going to be no more. After being purchased by Coca-Cola in 2011, it is quietly being phased out of the beverage giant’s roster, reported The Washington Post last month. As with almost all product discontinuations, this is a result of poor sales along with glass supply issues for bottling.
While the official decision was announced on May 23, according to USA Today, you’ll still see the drink hanging around on shelves through the end of the year. That means you have about three months to get your fill in of the modestly sweetened tea, which was started in the Washington DC area in 1998 by two partners: entrepreneur Seth Goldman and a former business professor, Barry Nalebuff. The brand kept to fair trade principles, and its focus on low sugar content helped usher in the current wave of wellness beverages you’ve seen flood the shelves these days.
While I regret always being the one to tell you when products get the axe, there’s a little seedling of hope in the form of more bottled tea. Goldman has wasted no time, already starting work on a new tea beverage, also with a punny name (like Honest Tea, which is supposed to sound like “honesty”), called Just Ice Tea (Just Ice, justice, get it?). The new tea brand is part of Goldman’s business, called Eat The Change.
As this phoenix rises from the ashes, its reincarnation is continuing on the path of its predecessor, keeping every ingredient involved in the process Fair Trade-certified and organic. A brand rep informed me that the main difference between Honest Tea and Just Ice Tea is that beverages are now sweetened with Fair Trade-certified and organic agave syrup and honey, as opposed to cane sugar in the Honest Tea (which is also Fair Trade-certified and organic). The six Just Ice Tea flavors that are currently available—green tea, honey green tea, Moroccan mint green tea, peach oolong tea, berry hibiscus herbal tea, and half tea & half lemonade—are almost mirror images of their Honest Tea counterparts. And though Honest Tea has more options, Just Ice Tea is sure to follow with more.
Prior suppliers and distributors immediately stepped up to participate in the new brand’s launch; Goldman told The Washington Post, “As soon as we said we were doing this, literally every part of the supply chain stepped up. Retailers said they wanted it. Distributors said they wanted it. Bottling plants and glass suppliers said they wanted to be part of it.”
The drink has already made its debut at a PLNT Burger location in New York City and is available at many supermarkets across the country. (You can check to see if Just Ice Tea is near you via its locator tool on its website.)
The Honest Kids juice brand will still be around, even as Honest Tea goes away, as it’s still a growing brand. If you were a fan of Honest Tea now is the time to get it. But as Just Ice Tea gradually blooms its way onto store shelves, you’ll be able to continue drinking on in the same spirit, just with a different label on the bottle.