Honest Tea
Honest logo.svg
TypeIced tea
ManufacturerHonest Tea, Inc / The Coca-Cola Company
DistributorThe Coca-Cola Company
Country of origin United States

Honest Tea (U.S.) was a bottled organic tea company based in Bethesda, Maryland. It was founded in 1998 by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company.


Honest Tea was founded in 1998 by Seth Goldman, a graduate of Harvard and the Yale School of Management who got the idea to found a beverage company while he was at business school. There were two key ideas behind the company: to bring beverages to market that were organic and not as heavily sweetened, and to conduct the business using fair trade principles.[1] Goldman and one of his Yale professors, Barry Nalebuff, conceived the idea for the company and raised $500,000 in startup funds from friends and family.[1]

The first order for Honest Tea was from Fresh Fields, an East Coast natural grocery chain that was later acquired by Whole Foods Market.[1] Honest Tea was available on Independence Air flights.[2] By 2006, Honest Tea had revenue of $13.5 million and was selling about 1.5 million cases a year.[1]

The Coca-Cola Company purchased a 40-percent stake of the U.S. company at $43 million in 2008.[3] It bought the rest of the company in 2011.[4]

In 2009, Honest Tea US received an unpaid endorsement when The New York Times reported that it was President Barack Obama's preferred beverage.[5]

A separate small company, Springleaf, controls the Honest Tea trademark in Australia. Honest Tea lost an attempt to claim the rights to the phrase in Australia in 2007.[6] In 2015, Annabel Young won her case against Coca-Cola in Australia as the original brand name holder, retaining the Honest Tea brand.[7]

In 2021, Coca-Cola introduced Honest Yerba Mate. Yerba mate is a traditional beverage in South America, brewed from leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant.[8]

On May 23, 2022, Coca-Cola announced it would stop carrying Honest tea beverages as of December 31, 2022.[1][9] Coca-Cola decided it would only carry two brands of tea, Gold Peak Tea and Peace Tea, because they are "best positioned to meet consumer preferences for high-quality brewed teas with different levels of sweetness and flavor". Coca-Cola expected that discontinuing the Honest tea line would allow it to "prioritize production and distribution" of other beverages, particularly in light of ongoing supply-chain issues that have caused Coca-Cola to be unable to meet consumer demand for Gold Peak.[10] Coca-Cola said it plans to continue carrying its line of Honest Kids organic fruit juices.[9] Honest tea is one of approximately 200 brands that Coca-Cola decided to discontinue carrying between 2020 and 2022.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Even after sale to Coca-Cola, Bethesda-based Honest Tea 'work in progress'". The Washington Post. June 29, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  2. ^ "Honest Tea Breaks Out From Organic Markets". The Washington Post. 2004-07-26. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  3. ^ "Drink maker finds Coke its cup of tea – Beverage Industry, Body Shop International Plc, Maine". Baltimore Sun. 2008-04-16. Archived from the original on 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
  4. ^ Paul Ziobro March 1, 2011 Coke Buys Rest of Honest Tea
  5. ^ "White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code". The New York Times. January 29, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  6. ^ "Australian iced tea more 'honest' than US". The Sydney Morning Herald. March 19, 2007.
  7. ^ Long, Christine (2015-07-23). "The woman who took on Coke and won". The Age. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Danley, Sam (May 5, 2021). "Coca-Cola adds Honest Tea Yerba Mate". Food Business News.
  9. ^ a b Schere, Dan (May 26, 2022). "Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman laments planned discontinuation of product he created in Bethesda". Bethesda Magazine.
  10. ^ Sousa, Rafaela (May 26, 2022). "Coca-Cola to discontinue Honest tea line". FoodBev Media.
  11. ^ Meisenzahl, Mary (May 25, 2022). "Coca-Cola is discontinuing Honest Tea by the end of 2022, in a move the brand's cofounder called a 'gut punch'". Insider.