What is the recipe for a successful ready to drink tea? Living on a sailboat in the Florida Keys? Well that was the genesis for Christopher Claytons idea that he dubbed "Sweet Leaf Tea". The line, inspired by his grandmother "Mimi's" homemade teas offers the same homemade-quality he grew up with. Organic and all-natural iced tea beverages, the line is healthier than most ready-to-drink beverages, Sweet Leaf Tea is made with ingredients like premium organic green and black teas, purified water and pure organic cane sugar. These tasty drinks come in a variety of great flavors including Peach, Raspberry and Citrus Green Tea, making them just as good for you as they are for your taste buds. Kids love them and parents do too, as these drinks are a healthy beverage choice for the whole family and are a convenient treat to grab while on the go, as well as comforting enough to sip right at home.
Their website has a very interesting animated Flash page listing all of all Sweet Leaf Tea Flavors in a tea "carousel". Click on a bottle in the carousel and it stops allowing you to click on the bottle and go to the individual product page. Besides the usual Nutritional Facts Label, they have a short quip that appeals to your emotions as opposed to touting features and benefits. For example Diet Peach Sweet Tea says: "If you already had a sip of this tea, then you've probably started reading the label to make sure it is Diete. It is! But what's in a word? Just close your eyes, take another sip and pretend you're cheating." Cheating and no-cal with great taste… now that is compelling.
Inspiration for Starting Business
Christopher Clayton's inspiration for Sweet Leaf Tea was a desire to create great homemade quality, ready-to-drink beverages that taste as if they were brewed right in one's own kitchen. Chris was inspired by the tea recipes his grandmother used while growing up, and wanted to share this delicious family secret with the rest of the world.
From the Kitchen
Chris developed a unique tea brewing system in 1997 (check out the sketch on their "Our Story" page) and began making the very first batches using pillowcases as tea bags and crawfish pots for brew tanks. Garden hoses were used to fill the bottles with tea, a handheld drill to put on caps, and labels were applied by hand. Clayton then began taking his product to the streets!
And on to the Shelf
He literally drove each case to place on the shelf… hmmm… is this "blood, seat and tea?" Sweet Leaf Tea's first delivery van was purchased in 1998 (with 200,000+ miles on it), and the tea drinks were shipped from the brewery onto store shelves. This image of a "mom and pop shop" and humble beginning drew in consumers, as Sweet Leaf Tea was born out of the community and its purpose was to serve it.