Here's Why Just Ice Tea Won't Have Cane Sugar - Exclusive

When you think healthy (or at least, as healthy as possible), organic sweeteners, your mind might automatically go to organic cane sugar. After all, so many products now tout that they're "made with real sugar" instead of artificial sweeteners. However, the new tea brand Just Ice Tea, founded by Honest Tea creator Seth Goldman, won't feature any cane sugar at all in its recipes. In an exclusive interview, Seth Goldman told us why.

The decision comes as part of the dedication of Just Ice Tea's parent company, Eat the Change, to planet-friendly food. Goldman said, "One of the things that's important in [order] for our planet to be resilient is to have more biodiversity, both in our diets [and] for people, and also ... to avoid creating monocultures." If you need to brush up on your agricultural lingo, a monoculture is created when a farmer or other producer grows a single crop in one large area. While monocultures might streamline the farming process and provide short-term economic benefits, they also result in reduced biodiversity and increased risks for the spread of pests and plant diseases (via Horizon: The European Union Research & Innovation Magazine).

Promoting biodiversity by saying no to sugar

In discussing Just Ice Tea's decision not to include cane sugar in its products, Seth Goldman said, "It turns out there are six crops that are responsible for 57% of all agricultural output. It's soy, corn, wheat, potatoes, rice, and sugar cane. We said we are going to avoid those ingredients in all of our recipes." So to increase biodiversity and decrease monocultures, Just Ice Tea is saying no to cane sugar.

But how do you make a slightly sweetened, bottled tea sweet without sugar? That's where Eat the Change's co-founder Chef Spike Mendelsohn came in. Goldman said, "When I told my co-founder, Chef Spike Mendelsohn, we were doing [this], he was like, 'Those ingredients are in every kind of food.' But he's a talented chef and a creative, and for him, it was great. He participated in 'Top Chef,' and he's like, 'This is the Chef Challenge, where it's like "Here's your box, here's what you can use."'" Now, thanks to Mendelsohn's hard work, all six Just Ice Tea flavors use organic and fair-trade honey and agave in place of cane sugar.

Just Ice Tea is now available at select retailers nationwide.