The popularity of nontraditional boozy beverages is continuing to grow, as a new line of alcohol brewed tea has now bellied up to the bar.
Boston Beer Co. has had Twisted Tea on the market for a while now and there are a few other hard iced teas you can find gracing store shelves, but they are all getting a new competitor in Wandering Whistler Alcohol Brewed Tea, which is backed by AB InBev’s investment arm, ZX Ventures.
“A major differentiator is going beyond the ice tea base and building the brand by taking cues from hot teas,” said the brand’s founder Jackie Atlas, who knows that “tea brings people together the same way your favorite bottle of wine does.”
Atlas’ travels and consistent wanderlust inspired the idea of creating the alcohol-brewed tea concept, which are made with the real tea ingredients.
“I’m a tea drinker through and through,” Atlas said, noting she’s never had a cup of coffee. “I saw what was happening with tea across the beverage space, and there is a ton happening with tea cocktails and in the radler space that was super interesting.”
Atlas had been working heavily in the big beer innovation space, particularly around near-beer products when this idea kicked in from tea, her love in the non-alcoholic beverage space. Atlas spent the past eight months developing the Wandering Whistler products.
A large piece of the puzzle is giving drinkers a premium, low-alcohol craft alternative (both of the launch flavors for the brand are 4.5% alcohol by volume) to the malt and hops of craft beers, Atlas said. The base of the products are fermented cane sugar and, of course, tea.
Wandering Whistler launched Tuesday, May 7 with two flavors: Earl Grey with Elderflower and Green Tea Jasmine. They’re both tea flavors even non-tea enthusiasts likely have at least heard of in passing.
The Earl Grey with Elderflower was inspired by London tea time and is made with black tea, bergamot, elderflower, and honey. Green Tea Jasmine is a “refreshing blend” and “inspired by the floral flavors of East Asia.”
The can labels feature a color-coded name situated underneath a postcard-like drawing of the location that inspired the flavor, with one being London’s Tower Bridge.
Atlas said there are plenty more flavors in the works, but didn’t want to divulge any specific flavors in development, but the idea is akin to looking at a map, dropping pins and building a beverage around the locale’s tea culture. (That being said, the Wandering Whistler website — say that three times fast — shows an image of a Chai flavor with what appears to be a stylized Taj Mahal on the front.)
“I’m being very intentional of where these teas come from,” Atlas said, “like a collection of postcards.”
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