We Finally Know When The Honest Tea Founder's New Beverages Will Launch

The Coca-Cola Company might have felt there wasn't much growth potential for Honest Tea, which is why it announced it would discontinue the brand in May of this year. But the brand's founder Seth Goldman, who had originally sold the brand to Coca-Cola back in 2011 believed otherwise, and now he has a chance to prove it.

Per FoodDive, Goldman has raised $14.5 million to take Just Ice Tea from concept to execution and will be launching the brand in Washington D.C. in September, with a national roll-out to follow in October. The brand will belong to Goldman's Eat the Change startup, which has been making environmentally friendly, healthy snacks out of plant ingredients including mushrooms and carrots. 

As he did in the past, Goldman took to Linkedin to share details about the new product. The new tea will come in 16-ounce bottles, and for a touch of nostalgia, the food entrepreneur said these would be the same bottles they had used in 1998 to debut Honest Tea. The new drink will be less sweet than Honest Tea, use only Fair Trade Certified Organic honey or agave nectar, and be "chef-crafted" with inputs from Top Chef contender and a brand stakeholder, Spike Mendelsohn. Just Ice Tea's debut drink will be an Original Green Tea, with six varieties of tea that will be launched initially, per Eat the Change.

Just Ice Tea's founder offers more details about the new product

To those curious about what the new product might taste like, Goldman said, "while none of our recipes is exactly the same as the Honest formulations, they will be recognizable and we think, even more tasty... Given the mutual commitment to using real tea leaves, Organic and Fair Trade ingredients, and Just Sweet Enough recipes, we expect Just Ice Tea to "rhyme" with Honest Tea," per Linkedin

FoodDive reports that Just Ice Tea raised more money than any fundraising round which involved Honest Tea in the past, and it's entering the market more quickly, too. By comparison, Honest Tea's rise to prominence was described as "organic", while Just Ice Tea plans to go national just weeks after its initial launch. Once on the market, FoodDive says the brand will be competing against Honest Tea's market rivals — Coca-Cola's Gold Peak and Pure Leaf from PepsiCo.

But given the expected growth of the ice tea market, there may be plenty of room for all the brands to play in. Future Market Insights says the ready-to-drink tea market could have a value of $33 billion this year — and that could grow further to $70.5 billion in 2032, as researchers see a consumer pivot toward living a healthier lifestyle. 

As of this year, the most popular ice tea brands include Honest Tea and Pure leaf, and perhaps Just Iced Tea will earn a spot on that list in the future.