In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Choice Organic Teas has joined forces with Bastyr Univesity to formulate and launch a co-branded line of functional teas.
This marks the first time that the renowned natural health university has collaborated with a consumer brand on product development and offered its logo for display on the product.
The Wellness Teas are a new line of certified organic, functional teas specially formulated by a master herbalist and faculty member in Botanical Medicine and Ayurvedic Sciences at Bastyr University.
“We’re really known in the natural foods channel for our classic blended teas,” Anne-Marie Phillips, head of marketing for Choice Organic Teas, told FoodNavigator-USA. “This is our first dietary supplement.”
Classified as supplements
Phillips said the blends are classified as Herbal Dietary Supplements (HDS), indicating that the product has met FDA standards for quality and testing. It also creates opportunities to merchandise the teas in the supplement section in addition to the tea aisle in retail stores.
“Typically we have been more of a tea for pleasure rather than for purpose,” Phillips said. “We were making tea and putting it out there in its traditional form. These are herbal teas to support daily wellness.”
The new co-branded line launches with eight SKUs with names that suggest digestive support, healthy energy support, sleep support and mental focus, amont others. The line features 30 different active, certified organic botanical herbs that are recognized and used for their health supporting qualities. With the exception of Regularity brand, the teas have been formulated for daily use.
The products are sold with supplement facts panels, Phillips said, though the functional ingredients, like in other functional teas, are grouped under a “proprietary blend.”
“I can’t say that there is one ingredient that we are carrying that no one else is carrying. There are some unique blends, though,” Phillips said.
“Our mental focus doesn’t just have ginseng but it has gotu kola, too. Our energy boost has eluethera root. Another ingredient we are adding is schizandra berry. We are adding it for function as well flavor.”
Phillips said this emphasis on flavor is one of the things that sets the new line apart from other wellness teas.
“We have always blended our teas for flavor and enjoyment. We really feel that it doesn’t have to taste bad to be good for you. Some teas are all about functionality and the makers seem to feel that it has to taste really powerful to be good for you,” Phillips said.
The partnership helps both parties, Phillips said. Choice Organic got access to Bastyr’s herbal expertise; the university gets exposure on the tea packages, which are sold in natural channel stores and specialty food retailers nationwide and in Canada.
“We felt that this partnership would be a wonderful way to promote awareness of natural health and botanicals, giving us national exposure to promote our educational programs as well as the practice of natural medicine,” said Tim Callahan, senior vice president and provost of Bastyr University.
“This is something that we have been wanting to do or a while. It’s no secret that wellness teas are doing really well in the natural category,” Phillips said. “We are known for our straight teas. We are not as well known for our expertise with herbs, particularly wellness for our benefit to partner with somebody like Bastyr is mutually beneficial. It provides a point of differentiation that is important in a crowded market.”
Choice Organic Teas, founded in 1989, says it promotes the growth and development of organic agriculture in tea estates worldwide and offers more than seventy-five varieties of teas and herbal infusions available in tea bags, tea pyramids, and loose leaf. The company holds both Fair Trade and Non-GMO certifications.
Bastyr University, founded in 1978, is located near Seattle, Washington, is the largest accredited university for natural health arts and sciences in the US. Bastyr offers more than 17 degree and certificate programs in fields such as naturopathic medicine, acupuncture & Oriental medicine, and whole-food nutrition. In 2012, Bastyr opened its second campus in San Diego.